News and Views on Tibet

Tibetan political prisoner confirmed dead for opposing Chinese re-education campaign

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Tibetan political prisoner Norsang in an undated photo (Photo- RFA)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, May 5: Tibetan political prisoner Norsang, 36, has reportedly died in custody back in 2019 after his release from a political re-education detention in Nagchu prefecture. RFA Tibetan service citing an anonymous source confirmed his death in custody two years ago after being severely tortured by Chinese authorities.

A father of six is said to have died under unclear circumstances, as his whereabouts remained unknown for a long time. The 36-year-old was ordered to attend the political re-education class with five other Tibetans. All the other five were released except Norsang; he had reportedly refused to attend the mass patriotic campaign. Chinese authorities organized numerous public performances during the run-up to the 70th founding anniversary where local Tibetans were required to hold Chinese national flags and sing “red songs” in praise of the Communist Party.

Other details regarding Norsang’s death remain unknown due to the tight restrictions online. However, the authorities concerned with the case have said that “he had killed himself by jumping off a bridge because he couldn’t pay a debt” but the source confirmed that “he didn’t owe any money to anyone” and has been living responsibly with his family at the time of his arrest.

The source told RFA that his wife and family were harassed by the police after six cars had arrived at Norsang’s hometown following his arrest and searched his house for a few days. The political prisoner was known to be against the re-education policies imposed in Nagchu and had opposed orders to “worship Chinese leaders and cut ties with separatists,” according to the source.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) in May last year called for an end to the coercive mechanism of political indoctrination, citing the cases of Norsang and Lhadar, separate incidents of people who went missing after their opposition to the re-education campaigns. The report claimed that Norsang was held at the township detention centre but the authorities denied family members to visit him or help him with food and other necessities. The local police also warned the family that more requests for a visit could result in heavier sentence for Norsang.

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