Prominent architect of September 1987 demonstration released

Ngawang Woeser
Ngawang Woeser

According to the confirmed information received by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Ngawang Woeser, one of the architects of the famous Pro-independence peaceful demonstration of 27 September, 1987 in Lhasa, was released on 18 April, 2004 from Drapchi prison. He was released on completion of his 15 years imprisonment term. His physical condition is known to have deteriorated severely over the years due to various tortures and inhuman treatments suffered in the prison. Currently his physical condition is extremely frail and has suffered severe body weight loss.

Ngawang Woeser along with one of the 20 Drepung monks initiated the first peaceful pro-independence demonstration in Lhasa after the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. The demonstration lasted only a few minutes and the monks were quickly arrested by the Public Security Bureau.

Ngawang Woeser was held in Gutsa Detention Center and released after four months detention. He and some of his close friends organized and formed a ten-member secret organization in Drepung Monastery. The ‘Organization of Ten’ was to distribute pro-independence leaflets and a Tibetan version of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

On 19 April 1989, Ngawang Woeser along with nine of his friends were arrested again from their monastery by Tibet Autonomous Region’s (TAR) Intelligence Bureau and held at TAR Public Security Bureau Detention Center on charges of distributing documents

On 28 November 1989, Lhasa People’s government office of the “Tibet Autonomous Region ” held a group trail for the ten members. Ngawang Woeser was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment term and other nine monks were simultaneously sentenced, receiving different prison term between 17 to 5 years for forming a secret Tibet Independence group, indulging in ‘counter revolutionary’ activities and ‘incitement of pro-independence activities and leaking state secrets’, along with other charges.

The ten members of the organization were: Ngawang Woeser, Ngawang Phulchung; Jamphel Jangchup; Ngawang Gyaltsen; Jamphel Losel; Jamphel Monlam; Ngawang Rinchen; Kalsang Thutop (who died in prison in July 1996); Jamphel Tsering and Ngawang Kunga.

After his sentenced was pronounced, Ngawang Woeser was transferred to Drapchi prison on 15 January 1990. He received severe beating from the prison guard on his arrival at the prison, which resulted in bruises and wound on his face. During his 15 years ordeal at Drapchi prison, Ngawang Woeser suffered various physical hardships and was forced to undergo ‘Reform-through-Labor’ and ‘Reeducation’. He spent the most productive part of his life behind the bars. Although he secured his release yet a miserable prison life over the years has resulted in constant deterioration of his health condition.

Ngawang Woeser, 35 year old, (lay name: Jamyang), was born at Dranang county in Lhoka region and brought up by one of his relative. He joined Drepung monastery situated in the west of Lhasa city in 1981.

Although most of the members of “Organization of Ten” were released over different period of time yet the Organization’s prime architect: Ngawang Phulchung and Jamphel Jangchup are still serving their 19 years term and Ngawang Gyaltsen is serving 17 years term in the Drapchi prison.

Amnesty International, the UN Human Rights Commission and many concerned individuals have strive hard to secure an early release after his long prison sentence. Ngawang Woeser was anointed by International PEN Scottish Center as its honorary member on April 15,1999.

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