By Phuntsok Yangchen
DHARAMSHALA, December 8: A Tibetan political prisoner has succumbed to injuries sustained in prison on Friday at Men-Tsee-Khang, premiere Tibetan medical Institute in Lhasa, two days after he was released from Chushur prison near Lhasa city ahead of his scheduled date of release.
Tenzin Choedak, also known as Tenchoe, serving 15 years in prison was handed over to his family, after his health condition deteriorated with doctors losing hope of saving his life.
Choedak was subjected to severe torture, according to sources. The Chinese authorities questioned him about his father, Khedup, who was allegedly involved in political activities for many years until he fled to India in 1993.
In April 2008, Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) detained Choedak for his alleged role in leading the March 2008 protest in Lhasa city. Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court later sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment and fined 10,000 Yuan (US$ 1625 approximately).
“The death of Tibetan prisoners resulting from their treatment in detention shows efforts by prison authorities to cover up the deaths by releasing the prisoners, thus contributing to a culture of impunity where torture is allowed to flourish,” said Tsering Tsomo, Executive Director of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, TCHRD.
Choedak, an alumnus of Tibetan Children’s Village, was working for European NGO affiliated to the Red Cross before his imprisonment.
Tenzin Choedak, was born in October 1981 to Khedup and Passang at Gyabum Gang village in northern part of Lhasa in Tibet Autonomous Region. In 1990, he escaped to India and studied at the Upper Tibetan Children’s Village school in Dharamsala up to class 10 and in 2005 returned to Lhasa.
Condemning the deaths in prison, TCHRD said, “The growing number of death in detention cases in Tibet and the failure of accountability on the part of the Chinese authorities indicate that the state is responsible for these unnatural deaths. The People’s Republic of China was one of the first member states of the UN to sign the Convention Against Torture in 1986 and ratified in 1988.”
“Despite signing and ratifying the Convention, the PRC does not recognize the Committee Against Torture, which is responsible for ensuring the overall implementation of the rights granted by the Convention,” TCHRD added.
In March 2014, another Tibetan political prisoner Goshul Lobsang succumbed to torture injuries months after he was released on medical parole by Chinese authorities avoiding the death in custody. Lobsang was sentenced to 12 years in prison in December 2010 and his health deteriorated due to lack of medical care and starvation diet in prison.