In the movie 12 Years a Slave, which recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the cruelty and inhumanity of slavery was encapsulated in one memorable scene when a slave returns to the cotton plantation with a bar of soap. The slave makes a demand for the simple right to be clean and is severely whipped and beaten for doing so.
Today in Tibet monks, nuns, and family members of Khenpo Kartse, also known as Khenpo Karma Tsewang, are refusing to bathe as a gesture of solidarity. Khenpo Kartse was arrested from his hotel room in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, at 1 am on 7 December 2013. For over three months prison officials have refused to allow Khenpo Kartse to bathe.
At the best of times, going three months without bathing is merely revolting and unhygienic. For Khenpo Kartse it is cruel, dehumanizing and degrading. When Khenpo Kartse was arrested he suffered from among other things bronchitis and tuberculosis. Both of these diseases have been exacerbated by the denial of medical care, starvation diet, and Khenpo Kartse’s freezing detention cell. Khenpo Kartse’s lung diseases have advanced to the stage that his body is now expelling bloody sputum, a mixture of saliva and mucus.
Khenpo Kartse is currently being held in the Chamdo Public Security Bureau Detention Centre on vague charges. He was a respected member of his community because of his social work and the promotion and protection of Tibetan language, culture and religion. He deserves to be freed, to be informed with specificity why he was detained, and to be treated with dignity. At the most basic level Khenpo Kartse simply needs a bath.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy requests individuals and groups to call the Chamdo Public Security Bureau Detention Centre (ph: (+011 86 0895-4821803) and urge them to give Khenpo Kartse a bath.
You can say this in Chinese: 让堪布尕玛才旺洗澡！[rang kanbu gamacaiwang xizao!]
And Tibetan: མཁན་པོ་ཀརྨ་ཚེ་དབང་ལ་ཁྲུས་རྒྱག་