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Tibetan political prisoner released after 5-year sentence

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Tibetan political prisoner Ajaja in an undated photo (Photo- RFA)
Tibetan political prisoner Ajaja in an undated photo (Photo- RFA)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 23: A Tibetan political prisoner named Ajaja jailed for five years for celebrating the 80th birthday of the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama was released on Dec. 10, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). A former monk at the Kirti monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture returned home this month after serving his full 5-year sentence.

Citing contacts in Ngaba, Kanyak Tsering at Kirti monastery based in Dharamshala said, “[Ajaja] was believed to have been arrested for organising a grand celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday in Ngaba . . . It was a rare public celebration of Dalai Lama’s birthday, and Ajaja along with most of the organisers were arrested following the event.” There are no information regarding his state of health following his five-year sentence as of now, given that Tibetans convicted of political offenses are often tortured, beaten, or harshly treated.

Ajaja was earlier jailed and served a three-year prison term for demonstrating an anti-government protest following the death of monk Lobsang Phuntsok from Kirti monastery who set himself on fire and died in March 2011 to oppose Chinese rule in Tibet. 

Nine other Tibetans who were jailed alongside Ajaja are still serving prison terms ranging from five to 14 years. Chinese authorities tightened restrictions across Tibet in 2016 prior to Dalai Lama’s 6th July birthday by posting warnings against celebrations and blocking public gatherings associated with the exiled leader.

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