By Tenzin Monlam
Local Tibetans welcoming him with ceremonial scarfs. Photo-TCHRD
DHARAMSHALA, October 7: A Tibetan political prisoner imprisoned in 2008 has been released before the end of his 12-year prison sentence by the Chinese authorities. He was released on Monday (October 2) after spending nine and a half years in Chinese prison.
According to the pictures and videos received by Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, Kunchok Dhondup, 25, was received by his friends and family upon his arrival in Upper Nurma Village, his native in Machu County, Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province.
An adopted son of Nata and Kelsang Kyi, the youth was arrested in 2008 for carrying out a protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet. The Kanlho Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 12 years on June 15, 2008 along with two other Tibetans - Kelbar, 20, who was sentenced to 15 years and Kheychok Trimthak, 30, who received 13 years’ prison term.
During the pan-Tibet protest in 2008, Machu County saw over 2000 Tibetans including students, monks and nomads carry out protest that lasted over three days from 16 March to 18 March. The Tibetans raised slogans of Tibet’s independence and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.
At least 12 Tibetans were killed and around 200 were severely injured after Chinese police opened fire at the protesters. Around 80 Tibetans were arrested.
The reason for Kunchok Dhondup’s early release is still unknown. However, TCHRD suspects that either it is because of his ‘good behavior’ during his incarceration period or he might have developed a ‘serious illness’ for which the authorities ‘do not want to take any responsibility if any untoward happened during the remainder of his term’.
Due to communication clampdown in the region owing to the upcoming Chinese top party meeting, the 19th National Congress in Beijing, no ‘detailed information’ on his physical condition could be ascertained.