News and Views on Tibet

Former political prisoner shares testimonial of her suffering in Chinese prison

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Former Tibetan political prisoner Namkyi speaking at the press conference at the CTA compound in Dharamshala on April 19, 2024 (Photo/CTA)

By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA, April 19: Former Tibetan political prisoner Namkyi, who escaped into exile last year shared a gripping testimonial of her suffering and persecution under Chinese occupation in Tibet, at a press briefing on Friday, at the exile Tibetan government’s compound here.

Speaking to reporters, Namkyi recounted her upbringing in Charo village, Ngaba County, eastern Tibet, within a nomadic family where she shared the sorrow felt by many Tibetans over the forced occupation by “Red China” and the subsequent exodus of spiritual leaders such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Namkyi detailed the challenges faced by Tibetan activists in Tibet, including restrictions on movement and suppression of cultural and religious practices by the Chinese government. She expressed concerns over whether the international community fully grasped the plight of Tibetans under Chinese rule.

She recalled the events of October 21, 2015, at 3 pm Beijing local time when she and her companion held portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama as they marched along Ngaba’s ‘martyr’s roads’, advocating for the freedom of Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and His Eminence Kirti Rinpoche. Within minutes, police officers emerged, seizing their portraits. 

Despite resistance, they were eventually subdued, handcuffed, and taken to Ngaba County’s detention centre. Subsequently, they endured seven months of detention before facing an unjust three-year prison sentence on false charges of separatism. Their time in a prison in Sichuan Province was marked by forced labour and discrimination.

Namkyi continued, describing the subsequent events of her arrest, detention, and trial, vividly recalling the interrogations, physical abuse, and unjust sentencing she and her sister endured. Their time in prison was further worsened by conditions such as malnutrition, cold, and discrimination, she said.

She further stated, “On 21 October 2018, we were released from prison after completing the prison term and kept at the police station of Pema Lhathang in Ngaba County for a week as concerned authorities called upon our family to write a promise letter for our release. My family was put on a blacklist because my elder brother was also in prison. Despite our release, our expressions and movement were severely restricted, putting anyone we were in contact with at risk.”

Last year, in 2023, Namkyi started her journey of escape with her cousin sister Tsering Kyi without informing anyone. They arrived in Dharamshala and reached the reception centre in Dharamshala on 28 June last year.

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