By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Feb 28: A Tibetan monk from Labrang Tashikhyil Monastery in eastern Tibet’s Amdo Province, who took part in the 2008 peaceful protests against Chinese rule, has died due to prolonged illness after failing to get timely medical treatment, a Tibetan NGO said Wednesday.
Thousands of Tibetans, led by monks from Labrang Monastery, staged peaceful demonstrations against Chinese rule over Tibet in Labrang in Sangchu County in Gansu Province on March 14, 2008. Sangay Gyatso, who died Saturday due to prolonged illness, was among those who took part in a series of similar peaceful protests in his native hometown in 2008. (Photo: Phayul/file)
Sangay Gyatso, 41, passed away in his monastery’s room on Saturday, February 26, 2011, GuChuSum Movement of Tibet, a former Tibetan political prisoners’ association based here, said in a press statement.
According to the statement, Gyatso was also among a group of monks who disrupted
a government organised media tour of foreign journalists who visited Labrang Monastery in April 2009, a year after the massive unrest in Tibet. ( Watch Video)
In 2008, Labrang in Sangchu (Ch
: Xiahe) County in Gansu Province witnessed some of the most dramatic unrest against Chinese rule, mainly led by monks of the Labrang Monastery, the region’s most prominent monastery.
“In 2008, he participated in mass peaceful demonstrations led by monks of Labrang monastery and raised slogans against what he views as the Chinese government’s wrong policy on Tibet,” GuChuSum stated in its press statement.
On April 9, 2008, when the international media groups visited Labrang monastery, Gyatso along with a small group of monks defied authorities and staged a protest in front of foreign reporters.
Media reports at the time said the monks bravely approached the visiting journalists, carrying banners and voicing support for exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and decrying human rights situation inside Tibet under Chinese control.
Three of the monks who interrupted the first foreign journalists tour since the 2008 unrest later managed to escape Tibet
to tell the world of their harrowing stories.
Fearing arrest after causing major embarrassment to Chinese propaganda, Gyatso and other monks had to be constantly on the run. To avoid arrests, Gyatso escaped into the hills near his monastery for more than a year.
During his escape to mountains he was deprived of sleep and food, and was in constant fear of getting arrested by Chinese police, GuChuSum said in its statement.
Since his views about the appalling human rights situation inside Tibet were aired in BBC news channel, he became a target of the Chinese authority,” the organisation’s statement said, adding that the Chinese government had even circulated his arrest warrant through Chinese news channels for days and months.
He was later taken seriously ill and subsequently became bedridden after facing many hardships, the organisation added.
But for fear of fear of arrest and Chinese government’s constant surveillance, he could not be admitted in a National hospital, GuChuSum said.
Gyatso was later admitted in a local hospital, but his health condition continued to deteriorate. Finally, he was secretly admitted in Kanlho Tibet hospital. Doctors there diagnosed him of suffering from jaundice and liver ailments.
He was later admitted at Kachu People’s hospital near Labrang, but the doctors informed him that his disease was incurable and advised him to go back to his hometown.
“His parents and relatives supported him throughout his illness. It is not that the Chinese authorities were not aware of his treatment at hospitals; they knew he was suffering from disease which is quite difficult to cure and they also knew he would not live long,” GuChuSum said in its statement.
Gyatso was born to Golha and Solho in a nomadic family in 1969 in Tashikhyil in Labrang. He became a monk at Labrang monastery at the age of 16.
In 1991, at the age of 23, he decided to go to India and studied at Drepung Monastery in the south Indian state of Karnataka.
Due to health issues, he returned to Tibet shortly thereafter and joined his previous monastery.
“The untimely demise of Sangyay Gyatso relates to the brutal and harsh treatment of the Tibetan people who were compelled to escape out of fear of repercussions for just exercising the basic freedom of speech,” GuChuSum said in its press statement.