Tibetan Activist Free After 17 Years in Prison

Tibetan activist Jigme Gyatso has been released from prison due to poor health one year from the end of an extended sentence, according to Radio Free Asia and the Dharamsala-based Central Tibetan Administration. From Andrew Jacobs at The New York Times:

“He was limping and reported having heart problems and high blood pressure,” a friend, Jamyang Tsultrim, told Radio Free Asia. “His vision was also weak.”

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

[…] The authorities, in fact, added three years to Jigme Gyatso’s sentence after he joined other inmates in shouting out the name of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader, as a delegation from the toured their prison in 2004. According to Amnesty International, prison guards later retaliated by severely beating Jigme Gyatso and killing nine inmates.

Jigme Gyatso should not be confused with the monk and filmmaker of the same name who has been missing since last September.

Dechen Pemba of High Peaks Pure Earth contributed to this post.

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