Palden Choedon (lay name : Palden Yankyi) ICT photo
Dharamsala, September 21 - One of the 14 Tibetan nuns who became popularly known as the "singing nuns" after smuggling out of their prison cells a recording of patriotic songs has escaped to India, according to the Washington based International Campaign for Tibet.
Palden Choedron who arrived in India on September 1 this year had earlier made a failed bid to escape after completing her eight - year sentence. After being caught for trying to escape to India she was slapped with another three years’ in “reform through labor” camp.
Palden Choedron is the eighth of the "singing nuns" to arrive into exile. Born in 1973 in Nyemo near the Tibetan capital Lhasa to a farming family, Palden became a nun at Shungseb nunnery at the age of 14. She was first arrested in 1990 when she joined a peaceful protest in the Tibetan capital’s Barkhor Street and sentenced to three years imprisonment.
Just before her sentence was to complete, Palden joined the 13 other nuns in tape-recording the patriotic songs in their prison cells in 1993. The songs, in praise of the Dalai Lama and Tibet, were intended to show their families and friends outside the prison that their spirits had not been broken despite the harsh conditions in Drapchi, a report by ICT said. All 14 nuns suffered severe torture leading eventually to the death of one of them, Ngawang Lochoe.
A Chinese court extended Palden’s sentence by five more years. She was released in October 1998.
Speaking to ICT in Dharamsala, she said she was not allowed by authorities to rejoin her nunnery. "The authorities came to the nunnery to make sure I was not there, and so I didn't go there otherwise other nuns would face trouble," she said.
The release of 34-year old Tibetan nun Phuntsog Nyidron marked the end of the imprisonment in Tibet for the "singing nuns." Phuntsog Nyidron, who served 15 years for peaceful protest and participating in the tape-recording of the songs, is now studying in Switzerland. Ngawang Sangdrol, who served 11 years of a total 21-year sentence, now lives in New York.
5 of the singing nuns, Tenzin Thubten, Ngawang Choekyi, Jigme Yangchen, Ngawang Choezom, and Ngawang Tsamdrol remain in Tibet, while eight are now in exile.