By Tenzin Dharpo
Former political prisoner Palden Gyatso at his quarter at the Kirti Jepa monastary on Nov. 15, 2018. Phayul photo-Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 15: Former Tibetan political prisoner and well known spokesperson for torture practices by China in occupied Tibet, Palden Gyatso, is in poor health. The 85 year old Tibetan monk, currently under the care of the Kirti Jepa monastery here, is bed ridden at the moment.
Gyatso who spent 33 years in Chinese prison and concentration camps in occupied Tibet said that he was suffering from weakness and liver-related complications since the last few months. “I told the doctor that I am not willing to undergo another surgery even if that means death,” he told Phayul adding that he has had his share of hospitals.
Former political prisoner Palden Gyatso at his quarter, Nov. 15, 2018. Phayul photo-Kunsang Gashon
The veteran Tibetan activist has drastically lost body mass and is in a weak physical state having to be assisted at all times. “I am happy and blessed to have lived this long. I was blessed in prison as well when I almost starved to death but survived unlike many of my friends who died in front of me,” he further said lying on the bed in his quarter he called home for the last seven years.
The Tibetan monk born in 1933 in Panam located in the Tibetan Autonomous Region was arrested in 1959 during the height of the Chinese invasion for protesting and leading a group of monks into peaceful revolt. He fled Tibet in 1992 after his release.
In exile, he became the face of China’s cultural genocide in Tibet and the suppression of the Tibetan people. He toured around the world exhibiting Chinese torture tools, all of which were used on him during the decades of torture, interrogation and “mental reform” sessions.
His personal stories and first hand witness accounts of inhuman treatment by China were heard at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in 1995 and at the inaugural Oslo Freedom Forum in 2009. In 1998, he won the John Humphrey Freedom Award from the Canadian human rights group Rights & Democracy.