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China accused of torturing jailed Tibetan monk

CCP critic Go Sherab Gyatso is serving 10 years after being convicted of instigating separatism
China accused of torturing jailed Tibetan monk

Tibetan Buddhist monk and scholar Go Sherab Gyatso. (Photo: Twitter/Bitter Winter)

Published: March 14, 2022 07:32 AM GMT
Updated: March 14, 2022 07:41 AM GMT

China’s communist regime has come under fire from human rights activists for the alleged torture of a jailed Tibetan Buddhist monk that has led to a grave deterioration in his health.

Go Sherab Gyatso, 45, a prominent monk, religious philosopher and author known for his strong criticism of the repressive policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has remained in Qushui prison in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, since November last year.

The monk was jailed for 10 years on charges of instigating separatism and inciting subversion of state power. He has been subjected to various forms of torture and ill-treatment in the prison ever since, Bitter Winter reported on March 11.

Rights activists have condemned the “inhuman” treatment of a human rights defender and political prisoner.

Rights Protection Network, a group monitoring rights violations in China, issued a statement on March 7 to express their grievances over the torture of the monk and called for his release.

In February, New York-based Human Rights Watch issued a statement deploring the detention and abusive treatment of the monk and called for his immediate release from “wrongful imprisonment.”

"Once again the Chinese government’s wrongful imprisonment of a Tibetan risks becoming a death sentence”

It said the monk has been suffering from a chronic lung condition, which has worsened in jail as he might not be receiving adequate medical treatment.

"Once again the Chinese government’s wrongful imprisonment of a Tibetan risks becoming a death sentence,” said Sophine Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch. “Go Sherab Gyatso should be immediately released and given comprehensive medical care.”  

Go Sherab Gyatso was born Sept. 9, 1976, in Khashi village in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province in southwest China, which has a significant concentration of Tibetan people. 

He became a monk in Sichuan and moved to Lhasa for Buddhist studies. He authored several books on Tibetan Buddhism and became a lecturer on Tibetan Buddhism in Sichuan and other provinces. He became known as one of the most prominent Tibetan Buddhist philosophers of his time.

However, he fell out with the CCP for refusing to accept repressive religious policies and the attempted imposition of strict political indoctrination imposed on Buddhist monks in Sichuan, according to Bitter Winter.

He was first arrested in 1998 in Sichuan and jailed for three and a half years. Due to torture and abuses in the prison, the monk contracted chronic lung disease.

The monk was arrested for the second time in 2008 amid a heavy crackdown on Tibetan monks and activists by the Chinese regime to prevent potential protests during the Beijing Olympics. He was released after one year in prison.

“The Chinese authorities’ determination to systematically silence Tibetan scholars is clear evidence that their aim is to devastate Tibetan culture, language and religion”

He was arrested for the third time in 2011 for his articles and books that criticized the CCP’s repressive policies. He was released from prison in 2013.

Gyatso was detained in October 2020 but his whereabouts remained unknown for months. In response to a letter by UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in 2021, the Chinese government said he was arrested on charges of separatism.

Human Rights Watch said it was seriously concerned about the condition of the imprisoned monk as the group has recorded the deaths of three Tibetan monks in prison since October 2020 and a host of Tibetan political prisoners since 2018.

“The Chinese authorities’ determination to systematically silence Tibetan scholars is clear evidence that their aim is to devastate Tibetan culture, language and religion,” HRW’s Richardson said.

Tibet, a region of rugged terrain with an estimated population of three million, was annexed by China in 1951. The region’s ethno-cultural Tibetans have long struggled for independence only to be brutally suppressed by Chinese authorities.

China denies freedom of speech, religious and political association in Tibet, fearing that allowing freedom might lead to ethnic separatism and a strong independence movement.

In protest at China’s draconian repression of Tibet, at least 157 Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople have self-immolated in Tibet and other parts of China since 2009.

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