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Tibetan protesters develop "severe" health conditions in Chinese prisons

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Tibetan activists and monks have developed paralysis and eye problems in Chinese run prisons.

Tibetan political prisoners arrested for their role in the 2008 uprising have developed “severe” health conditions in Chinese run prisons as a result of forced labour and torture.

Prisoners are suffering from a range of conditions including partial paralysis and damage to their eyes, while some have spent parts of the last two years in a prison medical centre and city hospital.

Buddhist monk and activist Thapkay Gyatso has been in a condition of “half paralysis” with both of his eyes damaged while serving his fifteen year prison term in Dingxi Prison, western China, anonymous sources said.

Thapkay Gyatso, 44, reportedly spat on Tibetan police during his arrest in May 2009 and was then “brutally beaten” in retaliation during an interrogation which left him partially paralysed. In 2018 he spent a large amount of time in Dingxi Prison Medical Centre, we learned last week.

The monk was arrested in his monastery for allegedly taking a leading role in the 2008 uprising protests in Sangchu County. His whereabouts were unknown for the first year of his detention.

In a similar case Tibetan monk Tsultrim Gyatso was sentenced to life in Tainshui Prison, a site where Chinese Communist Party authorities are known to use “reform through labor”.

Sources have reported him being badly beaten in an interrogation session there. One of his eyes remains damaged thanks to forced labour, beatings and poor living conditions in the prison.


He was sentenced to life in prison for leading protests in 2008, and in 2017 had to be transferred from prison to a hospital in Lanzhou City for an operation.

There are large numbers of Tibetans who have been criminalised and arrested in connection with their roles in 2008 peaceful uprising in Tibet. Many of them are still languishing in prison...They are found in extreme and severe health conditions.

In related news, we have learned that Kelsang Gyatso, another Tibetan monk who was involved in the 2008 protests, was released by authorities from Baiyin Prison in Gansu on 2 December 2018. He was returned home in secret at midnight.

Kelsang Gyatso has been barred from participating in any activities with his monastery since and is under constant surveillance by police.