Thupten Tsering is a 70 year old monk, formerly of Sera monastery. He arrived in Dharamshala on December 18, 1996 and spoke with TCHRD the next day.
Thupten Tsering entered Sera monastery at the age of seven. From 1956 to 1959 he served as the treasurer or store-keeper at the monastery. During the 1959 uprising, Thupten tsering and others were arrested but later released.
In 1966 Thupten Tsering was arrested for the second time for trying to escape to India with documents verifying the inception of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet. This time Thupten Tsering was sentenced to seven years which he spent first in Gutsa Detention Centre and then in Outridu Detention Centre (within Sangyip prison complex). From his release until 1979 he was deprived of his political rights and all of his movements were monitored and restricted.
In December 1987 Thupten Tsering and Youlo Dawa Tsering,a senior monk of Gaden Monastery, were arrested for speaking to two visitors ( a Tibetan monk and an Italian tourist) and for allowing them to take video footage of the Interview. Thupten said, “Among other things, I mentioned that in Tibet we do not enjoy religious freedom as is claimed by China. The Tibetan people are neither happy nor prospering. Prices of essential commodities are high and the people are poor. I requested His Holiness the Dalai Lama not to return to Tibet as it is not safe.”
Both Thupten Tsering and Youlo Dawa Tsering were charged under Article 102 (2) of China’s Criminal Law for spreading “counter-revolutionary propaganda”. On 18 January 1989, Thupten Tsering was sentenced to six years with deprivation of political rights for two years. Youlo Dawa Tsering was sentenced to 10 years.
Thupten Tsering was first detained in Seitru Detention Centre (within Sangyip) for over a year. While in Seitru, Thupten Tsering and Youlo Dawa Tsering were kept apart, each in solitary confinement, for six or seven months. During these months Thupten Tsering was interrogated every three to four days. These interrogations were conducted at night so that other political prisoners would not see him being taken into the interrogation section of the prison.
On 18 January 1989 when his sentence was announced in a public rally, Thupten Tsering was hit hard on his left shoulder with a rifle butt. He says this is a cause of pain to him even today.
After their sentences were announced, both Thupten Tsering and Youlo Dawa Tsering were transferred to Drapchi Prison. In 1990, the political prisoners at Drapchi prison were told that they were to receive medical check-ups. Some doctors came and extracted blood from each of the prisoners after which they were advised to drink warm sugared water. The prisoners received no medical reports following their check-up and blood extraction.
Thupten Tsering was released from Drapchi prison on 15 December 1993. On 9 or 11 June 1995 Thupten Tsering, along with 30 other Tibetans, were arrested by Nepalese police while trying to escape to India. Among the group were two other former political prisoners; 64 year old Tsewang Palden who was on conditional release after having served three years of a five year sentence and 29 year old Ratoe Dawa, a monk of Ratoe monastery (50 km south of Lhasa) who had completed a four year for his involvement in an April 1993 demonstration. UNHCR representatives were refused access to the refugees who were later deported from Nepal back to Tibet.
Thupten Tsering reported that he was detained for three days at Dram, a Tibetan border town; then another three days in Nyalam, 444km from Shigatse where he was detained a further moved three days. When he reached Shigatse Thupten Tsering was released with the children in the group in consideration of his age.
Thupten Tsering left Tibet for India in November 1996.