By Kalsang Rinchen
Jigme Gyatso, photo courtesy of Woser
Dharamsala, May 6 – China has released a Tibetan monk who spoke on camera criticizing the Chinese government as the restive Himalayan region was still reeling under Chinese crackdown last year.
Welcoming the move, the Dharamsala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said there are many Tibetans who are being held in custody on arbritary charges. “TCHRD calls upon the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to immediately release all the prisoners of conscience arbitrarily detained over peaceful exercise of their fundamental human rights.”
Jigme, 42, was first arrested on 22 March 2008 and put under detention for two months for his alleged role in one of the biggest protests in Labrang on March 14, last year, according to the Dharamsala based Tibetan Centre for Human rights and Democracy. Jigme was released two months later on medical parole.
On September 3 last year, the Voice of America’s Tibetan News service aired the video that contained Jigme’s interview in which he spoke about ‘Tibetan people’s aspiration, hopes and torture of Labrang Monks who were detained during last year’s March Protest in Labrang County.’
Jigme then went into hiding for nearly two months before facing his second arrest on November 4 last year when scores of People’s Armed Police (PAP) and Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials nabbed him from a Tibetan home in Labrang. Sources say that he was kept since then in an undisclosed location for nearly six months during which his physical condition had become very weak.
Jigme was released on May 3, 2009, which was being observed worldwide as the World Press Freedom day. However, it is not known if the coincidence was intentional on the part of Chinese authorities.