Ngawang Jangchub, 28 years old, died in the first week of October 2005 under mysterious circumstances in his quarter in Drepung Monastery, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). He was found dead a day after he had a heated argument with “work team” officials conducting the “patriotic education” campaign in the monastery.
The “work team” officials have arrived in the monastery in the beginning of October 2005 to conduct the campaign. As stipulated by the guidelines of the campaign, the monks in the monastery were required to condemn the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” and to pledge their loyalty to the Chinese government. Some of the monks refused to be “educated” and an argument erupted between them and the officials. It is reported that during the argument, Ngawang flatly refused to condemn the Dalai Lama calling him “the saviour for the present and the next life”. He told the officials that he had no regrets, even if he was to be expelled from the monastery.
Ngawang further refuted the Chinese officials’ claim of Tibet being a part of China; he reportedly said, “Tibet has never been a part of China historically and I dismiss your claim over Tibet”. In response, the officials verbally abused him and threatened him with dire consequences. Following the argument, Ngawang furiously returned to his quarter and did not come for the next day’s session. When the other monks went to check on him, they found him dead in his room. The exact cause of his death is unknown although the monks speculate suicide due to extreme psychological trauma.
Ngawang Jangchub a.k.a. Aku Ril Ril hails from Lhakhang Village, Phodo Township, Phenpo Lhundrup County, Lhasa Municipality, “Tibet Autonomous Region” (“TAR”).
The “patriotic education” campaign in the monastic institutions dislodges the mental equilibrium of the monks and the nuns, sometimes leading them to take extreme steps. The incessant political brainwashing employed during the campaign to force the clergy to reiterate party principles make the monks and the nuns undergo extensive mental agony – sometimes driving them to commit suicide. On 1 May 2000, Tashi Rabten of Thentok Monastery died under mysterious circumstances just after a 30-member “work team” interrogated him and forcibly led him to the private hall to search for photos of the Dalai Lama. Soon after, he was found lying in a pool of blood. He died shortly afterwards.
There has been a noted rise in the conduct of the “patriotic education” campaign since early 2005. Throughout the year, recent arrivals who fled Tibet reported conduct of the “patriotic education” campaign in Talung Monastery, Phenpo Gyabdrak Nunnery, Shugseb Nunnery and Sera Monastery. Expulsions from the monastic institutions and arrests were also reported following the campaign in the aforementioned monasteries and nunneries.
The “patriotic education” campaign started in 1996 is one of the major causes of religious repression in Tibet and is in contravention with international laws on religion. Threatening, expulsion, arrest and coercion in making the monastic community to follow the official directives contravene the UN human rights provisions on religion. TCHRD has documented expulsion of 11,383 clergy between January 1996 and August 2004 under the “patriotic education” campaign.