By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 26: A Tibetan man has reportedly died from prolonged health complications sustained through torture that he suffered during detention in Chinese prison in 2016. Pema Wangchen breathed his last at a hospital in Chengdu, the provincial capital city of the so-called Sichuan province on Friday, a former Tibetan political prisoner’s group said.
Gu-Chu-Sum, a former Tibetan political prisoner welfare and political movement group today said that Pema Wangchen passed away at 12:30 pm local time at a hospital in Chengdu in the presence of his father and brother.
Wangchen whose video of him singing the Tibetan national anthem went viral on the Chinese micro messaging app Wechat, was detained for 15 days by Chinese police and brutally tortured during that time, back in 2016.
Pema made the video on February 13, 2016, on the fifth day of the Tibetan New Year, in Ogzang Township, Kardze County located in the Kham region. The viral video is said to be the key cause of his detention in April 2016 when local police stopped him in Kardze town for driving a car without a driver’s license in his possession.
Gu-Chu-Sum said that as police began to interrogate him it became clear that the reason behind his detention was that he had sung a “reactionary songs”. He was detained for 15 days and was severely tortured before being released in early May of 2016.
“The impact of severe torture and mistreatment he faced during the detention was very evident on Pema’s health as he became frail and often battled health complications,” the group said. After prolonged illness since his release, his health took a turn for the worst recently as he was admitted in a hospital on April 21. Three days later, Wangchen passed away.
Wangchen’s brother Palden Trinley, a monk from Kardze Monastery, was arrested in 2008 with two other monks who marched through Kardze shouting "Long live the Dalai Lama,". He served seven years in prison.
The family’s association to political protests has resulted in the Chinese government withholding benefits and subsidies from them as a punitive measure. Wangchen was a single father of three and a driver by profession. He is survived by his three children and old aged parents.