News and Views on Tibet

Former political prisoner dies from injuries sustained in prison

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Geshe Tenzin Pelsang in an undated photo (Photo/Tibet Watch)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 8: A Tibetan monk and former political prisoner Geshe Tenzin Pelsang has reportedly died this month from injuries sustained in prison, according to the Tibet Watch. Geshe Pelsang served six years in prison between 2012 and 2018 for allegedly leading the protests in Drago County in Eastern Tibet. The rights group said that his situation worsened in recent months due to injuries that he suffered through tortures during his four years in prison.

One of the sources told the rights group that local authorities impeded Geshe Pelsang from accessing medical treatment. “Due to the excessive beating and torture while in prison, Tenzin Pelsang sustained multiple injuries and he was barely able to walk and stand by himself when he was released from prison in 2018,” another source said, adding that authorities continued to interfere in his medical treatment after his release from prison.  

Tenzin Pelsang was born in 1965 in Norpa village in Drago County, Kardze prefecture which falls under the so-called Sichuan province. In 1986, he joined Drepung Loseling monastery in South India to study Buddhism, graduated with a Geshe degree (a doctorate degree in Tibetan Buddhism) and then returned to Tibet. He later returned to Drago monastery where he served as the treasurer of the monastery.

In January 2012, protests swept across Drago county and two months later, the Chinese police from Sichuan province Public Security Bureau arrested Pelsang. He was accused of being the ringleader of the protests. The police held him incommunicado for ten months and was eventually sent to Chengdu. Three other monks from the monastery were also on trial at the time; a Rinpoche and a teacher were also sentenced to six years in prison whereas the third monk was given a five-year sentence.

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