FOURTEEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT ON SUSPICION

Many Tibetans face arrest in Tibet without any formal charges. They are often held in detention centres for a long period of time without any legal representations and trial proceedings. Often the ones who visit India are more vulnerable to arrest. The second photo of Phuntsok Wangdu was taken during the brief period of his life where his was not in Prison - where he was living in India.

The following the story exemplifies such a case. Phuntsok Wangdu is now a 29 year-old from Taktse County in Lhasa City. He was once a former monk of Gaden Monastery. As a child, he was taken care of by his grandmother. When he was eight years old, he studied in Mangstuk school for two years, then helped his parents at home. When Phuntsok turned 14 years old, he joined the Gaden Monastery. In 1990 when work team members visited his Monastery to carry out the ìpatriotic re-educationî campaign, 18 monks including Phuntsok were expelled from the monastery.


The 18 monks had criticised the work team members and infuriated them. Moreover, they refused to be 're-educated'. That same day the monks were taken to Taktse County where they were left in their respective villages. The heads of the villages were specifically instructed not to allow any of them to travel freely. They were forbidden to return to their monastery.


Around October that same year, Phuntsok fled to India. He joined the Buddhist Dialectic school in Dharamsala, India. In 1993 during winter vacation, Phuntsok returned to Tibet to his 90 year-old grandmother who was very dear to him. On June 17, 1993, TAR Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers arrested Phuntsok on suspicious grounds and detained him in Sangyip Prison. No reason was provided for his arrest. In prison, he was subjected to severe beatings and was held there for a period of six months without any legal documents relating to his arrest. During that time he faced no legal proceedings. After six months Phuntsok was released with many conditions imposed including restrictions on his movements.


For about three years Phuntsok stayed in Lhasa. Then on the eve of 1997 Tibetan New Year, he was arrested at his house together with his brother and 19 year-old cousin. The three men were held in Gutsa Detention Centre where they were brutally beaten. Reports from unofficial sources indicated that Phuntsok's feet and arms were manacled.


In May 1997 he was singled out and taken to a police station, west of Lhasa where he was severely interrogated for a total of one month and fifteen days. He was made to confess crimes that he did not commit. In July 1997 Phuntsok was transferred to Gutsa Detention Centre. Upon arriving in Gutsa he was subjected to further interrogations. On the grounds of suspicion of instigating political activities, Phuntsok was eventually charged with 'espionage'. He was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in June 1998, by the Lhasa People's Intermediate Court.


His brother and cousin were charged with "assisting a 'splittist clique'" and

sentenced to three years by the same court. Both men were transferred to Drapchi Prison. Phuntsok continues to be held in Gutsa as he appealed to the PRC for a re-trial. His grounds for appeal is that he has committed no crime.


It has not been confirmed whether or not his appeal was considered. Recently unofficial reports from visitors to the prison suggest that Phuntsok has been behaving in a peculiar manner indicating increasing emotional instability.

 

How can I help the campaign for Phuntsok?