Officials Extend Tibetan's Sentence for Shouting Pro-Dalai Lama Slogans in Prison

December 8, 2006

Officials detained Jigme Gyatso at his restaurant in March 1996, and a court sentenced him in November 1996 to 15 years' imprisonment for counterrevolution. The 1997 revision to the Criminal Law eliminated this offense. The Dialogue article reports that Jigme Gyatso received a three-year extension in May 2004 for "inciting splittism" after he shouted pro-Dalai Lama slogans in TAR Prison (Drapchi). According to a March 2006 report by Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, describing his late-2005 mission to China, Jigme Gyatso told Nowak during an interview conducted at Qushui Prison, opened near Lhasa in 2005, that the sentence extension was for two years. Information is not available that would resolve the apparent contradiction, but the Dialogue article notes that several Chinese government responses mention a three-year extension and provide a new release date in March 2014.

Prison authorities have held Jigme Gyatso in solitary confinement "in particularly restricted conditions" following his meeting with Nowak, and subjected him to "severe beatings," according to a December 1 International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) report. The report does not describe the source of the information, nor provide detail about the alleged heightened confinement restrictions and beatings. Nowak's report states that TAR Prison staff kicked, beat, and shocked Jigme Gyatso with electric batons after he shouted, "Long live the Dalai Lama," during the 2004 incident, and that the beating continued until the "Chief of Police" came to the scene and stopped it. Jigme Gyatso was "apparently hospitalized" earlier in 2006 for several weeks and is currently unable to walk normally due to a leg injury, according to the ICT report, which does not state the cause of the injury.

Chinese officials found Jigme Gyatso guilty of counterrevolution for "planning to found an illegal organization and [seeking] to divide the country and damage its unity," according to a December 2004 UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) report. A UNWGAD report issued in November 2000 referred to Jigme Gyatso’s involvement in establishing the organization, "Association of Tibetan Freedom Movement," and said that "there is nothing to indicate that the 'illegal organization' . . . ever advocated violence, war, national, racial, or religious hatred. . . ." According to the November 2000 UNWGAD report, Jigme Gyatso was "merely exercising the right to freedom of peaceful assembly with others in order to express opinions. . . ."

A translation of the official Lhasa Intermediate People's Court 1996 judgment, obtained by ICT, is available in the ICT report. In addition to Jigme Gyatso, the 1996 judgment sentenced four Tibetan members of the pro-independence group, Dargye, Lobsang Oezer, Tenzin Trinley (Tseten), and Yeshe Jamyang, to five years' imprisonment on counterrevolution charges.

See "Tibetan Culture and Human Rights" in Section VIII, "Tibet," of the CECC 2006 Annual Report, and the CECC Political Prisoner Database for more information.