Action For Tibetan Political Prisoners
Situated in the north eastern outskirts of Lhasa, Drapchi is the largest prison in Tibet, although there are many more – some concealed by titles such as ‘re-education centres’ or ‘reform through labour camps’. Opened in 1965 and built with forced labour it is known in Chinese as Di Yi Jianyu-No 1. Prison. The prison is arranged into a series of nine units and has recently been expanded and restructured. It has an estimated population of 1000 of which some 600 are thought to be political prisoners ranging in age from 18 to 85. Most of these are monks and nuns.
Conditions inside are harsh with a brutalising regime of forced labour, systematic torture, poor diet, and constant brainwashing programmes. Detailed reports of torture have been well documented by human rights groups including Amnesty International and Asia Watch. Alarming cases of forcible blood and human organ extractions have also been documented by independent monitors (two Chinese nationals were detained by the FBI whilst seeking to trade human organs in the United States).
Yet despite the appalling conditions and suffering endured by Tibetans Drapchi has become an inspiring symbol of resistance and the struggle for independence due to the heroic actions of political prisoners. There have been several demonstrations within the prison. The last major incident took place on 1st May 1998 during which eleven Tibetans lost their lives. Chinese troops opened fire at protesters who refused to take part in a propaganda film being made for a visiting EU delegation, which was due to visit the next day! Other events have brought the plight of inmates to the attention of the outside world, such as the pro-independence songs secretly recorded by Tibetan nuns and smuggled out. A further protest erupted during a visit by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on 11th October 1997. Those prisoners involved had their sentence increased by five years and suffered torture and solitary confinement. It is a matter of great shame that the Working Group failed to even mention the incident in their report to the United Nations.
“The People’ s Army Police who guarded us would casually beat and kick us as if it were nothing”
“In Drapchi she was shocked with an electric baton in the mouth if she was caught reciting Buddhist texts”
“She was suspended from the ceiling with her hands tied behind her back for an hour or more”
Action- Yeshi Choedon
Subscribers of Tibettruth have been campaigning on behalf of Tibetan political prisoners and such efforts have been welcomed and praised by former inmates, who reported that such actions have brought real encouragement and hope to Tibetans. The campaign has also served a warning to the Chinese authorities that organisations are monitoring the plight of particular prisoners and of general conditions.
You can help make a real difference by sending our latest appeal:
‘I appeal on behalf of Ms. Yeshi Choedon, a Tibetan political prisoner, who was arrested during March 2008 during the widespread uprisings against China’s occupation of Tibet. Aged 55 she was sentenced, by the so-called Intermediate People’s Court in Lhasa, to 15 years imprisonment for revealing information to foreign media about the violent suppression of peaceful protests against Chinese occupation. The communist Chinese authorities had previously announced the verdict on November 7, 2008, according to a number of sources Yeshi Choedon has been undergoing forced labour in a prison near Lhasa (more than likely to be Drapchi Prison). Yeshi, a retired Doctor of Tibetan medicine, had worked at a clinic near Norbulingka before taking retirement few years back, following which she took her residence at Ramoche. She was arrested without valid charges during the peaceful protests by Tibetans in Lhasa in March 2008. Yeshi Choedon has been denied any right to meet her family members since her arrest. I urge your office to investigate and support Yeshi Choedon’s case, and with all urgency, raise her plight with representatives of the communist Chinese authorities.’
To: Ms Barbara Lochbihler,Chair,
Sub-Committee on Human Rights, European Parliament firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Navanethem Pillay UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: InfoDesk@ohchr.org