By Tenzin Sangmo
DHARAMSHALA, April 6: A Chinese official at Intermediate People's Court in Nagchu prefecture, when asked to confirm the fresh sentencing of the 57-year-old Lodoe Gyatso to 18 years in prison, reportedly told VOA that it is ‘a state secret.’
Gyatso was arrested after staging a solo protest in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa on Jan. 28, 2018. A video he made hours before the protest shows Gyatso saying he is starting a “world peace movement."
He has since been handed over to the Sog (Ch: Suo) County Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, TAR.
According to Free Tibet, a Tibet advocacy group based in London, he spent two decades in the notorious Drapchi Prison between 1993 and 2013 after being convicted of killing another man in a fight. During his time in Drapchi Prison, he distributed 300 hand-written letters opposing the Chinese occupation and shouted pro-Tibet slogans.
“The torture he experienced while in Drapchi Prison resulted in extremely poor health.”
In 2015, he was detained for two years for staging another protest.
Members of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile last month called for international attention to the case.
As per the VOA report yesterday, Ngawang Tharpa, a member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile who claimed to be a nephew of the prisoner said he learned from two sources that the verdict was handed down late last year, probably in October or November.
Gyatso’s wife, Gakyi, has also been sentenced to two years in prison allegedly for filming the short video shot just before his protest.
A rights lawyer in China on the condition of anonymity told VOA it was not unusual for the verdict to be announced only to the dissident and his family members or his lawyer.
The lawyer expressed his surprise at the new lengthy sentence saying it would be too much and added that the relatives might have been under too heavy a pressure to hire him to defend Gyatso.