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: Support Dortruk
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 Mr Dortruk, a Tibetan political prisoner, who was arrested by the Chinese paramilitary during December 2012 following the self-immolation of Mr. Lobsang Gedun, a 29-year-old Tibetan from Golok Pema Dzong in eastern Tibet. According to reports Dortruk was seized as local Tibetans tried to protect the body from being confiscated by Chinese forces.
On May 20, 2013, the Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu, China’s Sichuan Province, sentenced Dortruk, to 10 years in prison, having been charged with taking Gedun’s body from Chinese security personals and taking part in protests across Tibet in 2008 and 2009.
According to sources reporting this latest case of injustice against Tibetans Dortruk is from Golok Pema Dzong, Amdo region of eastern Tibet and is a farmer in Golok Pema County. His wife’s name is Karma Kyid and they have a son and daughter, Konchok Dorjee, 13, and Kalsang Dolma, 19.
I urge your office to investigate and support Mr. Dortruk’s case, and with all urgency, raise his plight with representatives of the communist Chinese authorities.’
To: Ms Elena Valenciano,Chair,
Sub-Committee on Human Rights, European Parliament firstname.lastname@example.org
Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: InfoDesk@ohchr.org