By Tenzin Dharpo
Gonpo Tseko/RFA photo
DHARAMSHALA, Sep. 13: A Tibetan man who was convicted on the charges of being a “ring leader” of a protest in Machu during the 2008 pan Tibet uprising was reportedly released from Chinese prison. Gonpo Tseko was freed on Aug. 10, about three and a half years before his 14-year sentence ends.
The 39-year-old was handed over to his family at his home in the Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Machu county, a local source cited by Radio Free Asia
As is standard practice by Chinese authorities to release Tibetan political prisoners without proper knowledge of their families and sometimes in the cover of night, Tseko’s return was made known only during his release. RFA’
s source said, “Chinese authorities warned his family not to organize any gathering to celebrate and welcome his release, and the condition of his health is still unknown.”
“Gonpo Tseko was arrested sometime in October 2008 in connection with Tibetan protests in Machu, of which he was accused of being the ringleader,” he further said.
Tseko was sentenced to 14 years in jail by a Chinese court and was held at a prison in Gansu’s provincial capital Lanzhou.
Official reports deduce that the mass protest began March 10, 2008 in Lhasa city when around 400 Drepung monastery began protesting and later “snowballed” into lay and monastics following suit. Exile Tibetans say that the historic uprising was Tibet’s largest freedom resistance, longest spanned as well as the heaviest participation after the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
Official reports published by the exile Tibetan government, known officially as the Central Tibetan Administration, estimate that 153 Tibetans died in the aftermath of the crackdown by China. CTA says that 218 Tibetans were arrested and like Gonpo Tseko, 510 Tibetans were sentenced in the course of the crackdown that followed the protest.
“Despite almost 60 years of intrusive and sometimes oppressive interference by the People’s Republic of China on how the Tibetan people should lead their individual and collective lives. The overwhelming message of all these protests was: let us be Tibetan, do not force us to be what deeply transgresses our innermost values,” CTA said in its comprehensive report.