A Tibetan monk was released recently after completing a six-year sentence for sharing information about human rights abuses perpetrated by Chinese security forces during the height of 2008 Tibetan uprising in Serthar (Ch: Seda) County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, according to information received by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
Ngagchung, who was a monk at Larung Gar Buddhist Institute prior to his imprisonment, was released on 8 July 2014 after the completion of his 6-year sentence. He is said to be in poor health and suffers from damaged vision.
No other details are available on the current status and condition of Ngagchung as local authorities in Serthar County have blocked all communication lines including phone and Internet.
Ngagchung was punished for sharing information with “separatist forces” outside of Tibet about the Chinese government’s crackdown on Tibetan protests in 2008. He was charged of ‘leaking state secrets’, a vague and overbroad legal provision used to punish scores of Tibetan human rights defenders and activists.
In March 2010, TCHRD first reported the arbitrary arrest and subsequent incommunicado detention of Ngagchung at the hands of Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials.[i] Ngagchung was arrested on 8 July 2008 along with two other monks; Taphun and Gudrak, also from Larung Gar Buddhist Institute of Serthar on suspicion of leaking information about Tibet’s situation to the “separatist forces” outside during the height of the Tibet protests in 2008.
Taphun and Gudrak-both brothers- were released after interrogation, but Ngagchung remained in incommunicado detention at Chengdu Public Security Bureau Detention Centre before his incarceration in a prison at Ya’An, on the periphery of Chengdu city.
In January 2010, after about 18 months of incommunicado detention, the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Ngagchung to six years in prison and one year deprivation of political rights for ‘leaking state secrets’.
Ngagchung is a nephew of the late Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, a highly-respected Tibetan Buddhist teacher who founded the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Sertha County (Ch: Seda), Kardze ‘TAP’. Ngagchung studied Buddhist philosophy at the institute for more than 20 years.
Larung Gar Buddhist Institute witnessed numerous Chinese crackdowns in 1999 and April 2000 with Chinese authorities sending ‘work team’ officials to conduct the ‘patriotic education’ campaign at the institute. On 18 April 2001, the Chinese authorities imposed a quota on the number of students who could attend the institution. Some 7,000 students were forced to leave. Then in June 2001, fifty trucks and jeeps arrived at the Institute and, under the protection of thousands of security officials who camped on the outskirts of the institute tore down the monastic homes. The founder of the institute, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, passed away under mysterious circumstances at a hospital in Chengdu on 7 January 2004 at the age of 70.[ii]
[i] TCHRD reported earlier that Ngagchung was sentenced to seven years but current information indicates that he received six years. See ‘Chinese court sentences Serthar monk to lengthy prison term’, TCHRD, 24 March 2010, https://tchrd.org/2010/03/chinese-court-sentences-serthar-monk-to-lengthy-prison-term/
[ii] ‘Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, Abbot of Serthar Buddhist Institute Dies’, TCHRD, 7 January 2004, https://tchrd.org/2004/01/khenpo-jigme-phuntsok-abbot-of-serthar-buddhist-institute-dies/