Tibetan political prisoner released
Choekyi spent four years behind bars for talking about the Dalai Lama
The Chinese government has released a Tibetan monk who was arrested in 2015 after being accused of making monastic robes and talking about the Dalai Lama on social media.
Choekyi, 43, from Phugu Monastery, in eastern Tibet’s Serta County, left Mi-nyag Rang Nga-kha Prison on Friday 18 January following the end of his sentence.
Police escorted Choekyi from the prison to his home on Friday at 9pm and warned that only family members would be allowed to welcome him, and that he would not be released if others were found celebrating.
Despite threats of arrest from the authorities if the news of Choekyi’s release was spread, more than a hundred people gathered to welcome him.
Choekyi was originally sent to prison on 19 June 2015, without a trial, for what the Chinese Communist Party call “splittist” activities – a broadly worded charge that treats small acts of defiance against Beijing’s rule and expressions of religious devotion as threats to national security. The monk’s sister and her son were also taken into police custody for fifteen days following his arrest.
Photos of paperwork show that Choekyi was released five months before the end of his sentence.
His current health condition remains unclear, although Choekyi was known to have had a long- term illness before his arrest. His condition is said to have deteriorated while in prison, in part because of the forced labour he was forced to undergo.