tibetan activist and former monk released after seventeen years in prison

by Tim Phillips

The Chinese government, which has jailed hundreds of Tibetans for political crimes, recently released Jigme Gyatso. Gyatso was said to be frail due to years of torture and poor medical care. According to Wednesday’s New York Times article,

A former monk, Jigme Gyatso was first given a 15-year sentence for “leading a counterrevolutionary organization” after he and a group of friends secretly advocated Tibetan independence. The crimes he was accused of by a Chinese court in 1996 included distributing pro-independence leaflets and hanging a banned Tibetan flag at the Ganden monastery near Lhasa, capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

The authorities increased Gyatso’s sentence by three years after he joined other inmates in shouting the Dalai Lama’s name while a delegation from the European Union toured the prison in 2004. Prison guards retaliated against the inmates by beating Gyatso and killing nine others. Gyatso’s sentence was later reduced by one year, characterized by the New York Times as “a gesture of leniency often granted to inmates in failing health.”