A senior Tibetan monk was released last Monday after he completed a ten-year prison term for leading a peaceful protest against the arbitrary detention of his uncle by Chinese security forces in Lithang (Ch: Litang) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham.
Adruk Lopoe, 55, was released at around 11 pm local time on 21 August and reached his home in Yonru Kharshul Village in Ponkar Township in Lithang County, according to information provided by his relative Adruk Tseten who lives in India. There is no information available on his current condition. A photo taken on the night of his release show Adruk Lopoe with fellow monks, family members and other Tibetans at a banquet held to welcome him home. Adruk Lopoe had lost much of his weight and the once robust man looks like a shadow of his former self.
Adruk Lopoe was arbitrarily detained on 21 August 2007 by the Lithang County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers because he had publicly campaigned for the release of his uncle Ronggye A’drak. He was held in incommunicado for three months after which he was sentenced on 20 November 2007 on charges of “colluding with foreign separatist forces to split the country and distributing political pamphlets.”
Ronggye A’drak was detained on 1 August 2007 after he spoke about the importance of the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet to a large Tibetan crowd gathered for the Lithang horse-race festival. He was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment with deprivation of political rights for four years, on four counts of ‘crimes’ ranging from disruption of law and order to state subversion. He was released on 31 July 2015.
Among the four Tibetans sentenced for protesting outside the Lithang County PSB office calling for Ronggye A’drak’s release, Adruk Lopoe received the heaviest sentence. After Ronggye A’drak’s detention, local Tibetans had staged a series of protests for weeks demanding A’drak’s release. Teacher and musician Jamyang Kunkhen was sentenced to nine years while Lothok, a 36-year old nomad and father of five children, received three years. Kunkhen was released in poor health on 21 August 2016. Adruk Lopoe’s younger brother, Adruk Kalsang Gyamtso aka Kalgyam, was sentenced to five years.
Numerous UN Special Procedures mandate holders had called on Chinese authorities to release Adruk Lopoe. The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, had sent a letter of allegations to the Chinese government concerning Adruk Lopoe and his uncle Ronggye A’drak. The Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Special Rapporteur on torture also sent an urgent appeal concerning Adruk Lopoe.
Adruk Lopoe was born in 1962 to Mr Adruk Wangdue and Mrs Ronggye Tsewang Dolma in Yonru Kharshul Village, Ponkar Township, Lithang County. He was the eldest among seven children of Adruktsang family. At the age of eight, he was ordained as a monk and joined the Lithang Monastery. Over the years, he excelled in Buddhist studies and was later appointed as chant master (Tib: Omzey) of the monastery. He also worked as the disciplinary master (Tib: Geykoe) at Yonru Rabgyeling Monastery, one of the 113 smaller monasteries affiliated to Lithang Monastery. During 1997-98, at the height of ‘patriotic education’ campaign launched by the Chinese authorities across monasteries and nunneries in Tibet, he was appointed a deputy director of the Democratic Management Committee (DMC) of Lithang Monastery. He later resigned from the post after fully understanding its spiritual and political ramifications. The DMC post required him to denounce his spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a sacrilegious act that goes against his religious vows. Before his arrest in August 2007, he was on a short break after completing a yearlong meditation retreat at Yonru Rabgyeling Monastery.