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Tibetan political prisoner released from prison after 21 years, detained again three years later

Lodoe Gyatso as a young man
Lodoe Gyatso as a young man

Chinese authorities have detained Lodoe Gyatso, a former Tibetan political prisoner who was released from prison three years ago after serving 21 years.

Lodoe Gyatso was arbitrarily detained in Lhasa at around midnight local time on 14 May 2016 for unknown reasons. His family members and relatives have no information on the exact location of his detention.

Lodoe Gyatso, now 55, had been released on 2 May 2013 after completing 21 years at Chushur Prison near Lhasa. On 20 April 1994, the Nagchu Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to 15 years for murder and sent him to Drapchi Prison in Lhasa. On 17 January 1993, Lodoe’s sister, Lharik, was killed by a speeding car driven by a Tibetan man called Gayoel, who was close to the Chinese authorities. Lodoe sued the driver for murder, but the authorities dragged their feet on the case for a year and ultimately pronounced Gayoel “not guilty”. Following this, Gayoel told some friends that he would kill Lodoe for taking him to court. This further incensed Lodoe who then filed another case against Gayoel for issuing death threats, but the authorities refused to register the complaint. Later in the same year, the two men met in the village market and a fight broke out between the two: Gayoel was carrying a pistol and missed two shots he aimed at Lodoe who defended himself by stabbing Gayoel. Gayoel died later in an army hospital.

On 4 March 1995, while being an inmate at Block no. 1 of Drapchi Prison, Lodoe Gyatso encouraged other prisoners to stage protest against the Chinese authorities by holding a lone demonstration by walking from Block no. 5 to 6, 4, 2 and concluded his protest march near the courtyard of Block 1. During his lone protest, he shouted slogans such as “Tibet is independent!” “China should leave Tibet!” “Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama!” “All the six million Tibetans are united!”. He also distributed handwritten pamphlets and posters that read: “If His Holiness faced no obstancles in his 25th year, then he will become the ruler of all realms in his 60th year. Tibetans have been under Chinese rule for 36 years and on this day, to commemorate the Tibetan independence struggle, I represent the entire Tibetan people.” Consequently, two prison officials took him to the torture cell where he was subjected to severe and inhumane beatings and torture. For over a month, Lodoe was tortured and asked to confess to his mistakes. But Lodoe refused to confess following which he was put a starvation diet as punishment. When this did not break Lodoe, prison authorities including the ‘Reeducation Through Labour” committee officials forwarded relevant papers to the procuratorate calling for Lodoe’s execution.

In April 1995, as Lodoe’s execution order awaited approval from the TAR Higher People’s Court, the news of the impending death penalty was smuggled out by fellow inmates and attracted international attention. And on 18 May 1995, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions transmitted an urgent appeal to Chinese government. Following pressure from other international organisations, Lodoe’s life imprisonment with six years reprieve was commuted to life and he was deprived of political rights for three years. His sentence term was thus increased to 21 years.

Lodoe Gyatso soon after his release
Lodoe Gyatso soon after his release

Lodoe Gyatso is from Sogkhar Village of Tsadog Township in Sog (Ch: Suo) County, Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region. He was homeschooled in basic education by his father. He had also been a part of the Sog County Performing Group. Because of his robust body, he has obtained two times of first prizes in lifting heavy stones. He is known among former prison mates as a courageous person with a deep sense of pride in his identity and culture. His family consists of his mother, five sisters and one younger brother. With his former wife Gakyi, he had a son who later died due to ill health.

TCHRD calls on the Chinese authorities to disclose the whereabouts of Lodoe Gyatso and allow his family members to meet him to ensure his physical and psychological health. Chinese authorities must make public the reasons for his arbitrary detention and release him immediately. Lodoe Gyatso has suffered severe beatings, inhumane treatment and torture for 21 years for challenging a corrupt system and for his political views and non-violent activism.



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