12/11/2019

Longest Serving Tibetan Prisoner In Serious Health Condition

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Lobsang Tenzin, the longest serving known Tibetan political prisoner who is currently imprisoned in Chushur Prison in the western part of Lhasa, is said to be in serious health condition. According to reliable sources, he is suffering from diabetes due to which his eyesight has weakened causing blindness at times.

Lobsang Tenzin was a student of the TAR Tibet University in his mid twenties when he was arrested on 5 March 1988 for participating in a protest march for Tibetan freedom in Lhasa.  He was initially sentenced to death with two years reprieve in Drapchi Prison. Three years later, in 1991, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after strong and sustained pressure from the international community.

In prison, Lobsang continued his struggle for justice and rights. On 31 March 1991, Lobsang and a fellow inmate (Tenpa Wangdrak) were caught attempting to hand over a petition to the then U.S Ambassador James Lilley. The letter contained lists of all the names of prisoners who had been tortured with details of prison torture and maltreatment, and sought help from the U.S Government. The two were brutally beaten and kept in dark isolation cells for three weeks. He was transferred to Powo Tramo Prison in Kongpo, eastern Tibet and from there to Chushul Prison.

In 1994, reports said that his sentence was further reduced to 18 years for his “good behavior” which makes his release due in 2012. Yet, he still remains in Chushul Prison (Ch: Qushul) in west Lhasa. This year is the 23rd year that Lobsang has served in prison since his arrest in 1988 making him the longest serving Tibetan prisoner alive.

TCHRD is deeply concerned about Lobsang’s health and urges the Chinese government to immediately provide medical aide to him. Over the years the Centre has often received reports of Lobsang’s worsening health. Years ago he has also suffered damaged kidney, causing numbness and extreme difficulty in standing.