Lhundup Ganden (layname-Tashi or Tashi Gyatso, also known as Ganden Tashi), born in 1968, is a 28 year old former Ganden monk. He arrived in Dharamshala, India, on 18 December 1996 and spoke with TCHRD the following day.
On 5 March 1988, Lhundup Ganden and other Ganden monks were arrested for demonstrating and demanding the release of a Youlo Dawa Tsering. Lhundup Ganden was sentenced on 18 January 1989 to three years detention plus deprivation of political rights for one year. The official charge was “instigating counter-revolutionary propaganda.” Lhundup Ganden was detained first at Gutsa Detention Centre for two months and then in Sangyip until 8 March 1989 when he was moved to Drapchi prison.
While in Gutsa Detention Centre, Lhundup Ganden, two Tibetan youths and a Tibetan woman were all stripped naked while police officials surrounded them in the interrogation room. The four were beaten with electric batons and Lhundup was hit on his head with a rifle butt. When Lhundup Ganden was later called again to be interrogated, he was unable to walk and to be carried by other prison mates.
As a result of torture delivered during interrogation, Lhundup Ganden sustained serious head injuries precipitating migraine headaches which he continues to suffer today.
On 3 August 1989, Lhundup Ganden was transferred to Outridu Detention Centre and detained there until 17 May 1990. For the first 34 days he was kept in solitary confinement and was chained all the time. Despite having his hands chained, Lhundup Ganden was put to hard labour during this period- construction work and the removal of human faeces from the urinals, taken to the vegetables gardens to be used as fertilizers.
There were only three cells in Outridu and these rooms were used to confine prisoners in isolation. Lhundup Ganden describes his cell in Outridu as so small that was hardly any space to move his legs. There was no lavatory in the cell and so the prisoners were forced to relieve themselves in the same space where they slept.
The cells were dark and the prisoners had to sleep on a metal floor without any bed-covers. The cells were designed so as to make them extremely cold as means of torturing the prisoners.
Lhundup heard of three suicides while he was in Oitrudu.
On 18 May 1990 Lhundup Ganden’s sentence was increased to nine and a half years and three years deprivation of political rights. He and three others- Migmar Tashi, Dawa and Dawa Tsering –were accused of “organizing a jailbreak” and forming an independence group called “Snowland For Youths Freedom Organization” (Tibetan: Gangchen Shonue Shibo Rangzen Tsokpa” ) within Drapchi Prison.
Migmar Tashi and Dawa had originally been arrested for petty crimes. However, as a result of their political activities while in Drapchi prison, on 18 May 1990 they were sentenced and executed.
Throughout 1990 to 1993 Lhundup Ganden had to be medically treated. He had become paralysed from his waist downwards while in Oitrudu and suffered severe headaches. In 1993 when he still showed no signs of improving and his medical bills were piling up, he was finally released on medical parole.
After his release he had to pay for all of his medical expenses which proved extremely costly. However slowly his legs became normal again.
Despite his better health, Lhundup Ganden says of this time, “when a political prisoner is released he or she is expelled from one’s monastery, school or job. The person is not allowed to be a part of the society again. This is the most difficult part of our lives. We are not afraid of going to prison but the life release is unbearable.”