Female prisoners suffer inhuman torture

Rinzin Choenyi
Rinzin Choenyi

The following is the testimony of Rinzin Choenyi, a 26-year-old nun of Shugseb Nunnery, who spent six years in Drapchi Prison. She, and other female political prisoners, suffered a variety of torture methods whilst in prison and, in some cases, this has resulted in death.

Rinzin Choenyi was expelled from her nunnery in 1988 because of her participation in a demonstration in Lhasa along with 11 nuns and two monks. She and one of the monks had managed to escape while 11 of the demonstrators were arrested.

On 22 Sept. 1989, Choenyi once again participated in a demonstration, this time with five other nuns of Shugseb Nunnery. She was arrested and taken first to Gutsa Detention Centre where she was detained for two months. She was subsequently sentenced to 7 years imprisonment with two years deprivation of political rights. Her sentence was later reduced to 6 years for “good behaviour”.

For her entire two months detention in Gutsa, Choenyi was kept in solitary confinement. During the first 3 days, she was interrogated 3 times a day. After that she was interrogated once or twice daily up until the day of her release.

During these interrogation sessions Choenyi was severely tortured. She was made to hang from the ceiling for one hour or more with her hands tied behind her back. While in this position, she was rotated and beaten with twisted jute ropes. Custom-made electric wires were wrapped around her fingers and she was subjected to electric shocks. At the same time she was kicked and burnt with cigarettes. She describes the use of these finger wires to inflict electric shocks as the most painful means of torture that she had to endure.

After completing two months in Gutsa, Choenyi was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and was transferred to Drapchi Prison. While in Drapchi, Choenyi experienced even worse torture. She recalls that if the nuns were caught reciting Buddhist texts, they would be subjected to electric shocks in the mouth with an electric baton, and when caught prostrating, they were forced to prostrate in water and ice.

On the first day of the Tibetan New Year on 10 March 1992, which also coincided with Tibetan National Uprising Day (of 10 March 1959), the nuns in Drapchi Prison wore new clothes to celebrate the occasion. The prison authorities ordered the nuns to remove their new clothes and when they refused, 23 of the nuns were beaten continuously for three days by 50 to 60 members of the People’s Armed Police (PAP). Each nun was beaten by five or six PAP members at a time who kicked them and used electric batons and belts to torture them.

During her stay in Gutsa and then in Drapchi, Choenyi was forced to acquiesce to blood extraction on three occasions. On her third blood extraction in Drapchi, she became so weak that she had to be hospitalised for 28 days.

Choenyi was released in September 1995 after completing six years in Drapchi Prison.

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