Why Does China Suddenly Let Go Of Some Tibetan Prisoners?

In the last few months at least two long term Tibetan prisoners have been paroled. It is common practice for Chinese authorities to release seriously or terminally injured prisoners in order to reduce the number of deaths in detention.

In the end of 2012 Lobsang Tenzin, one of Tibet’s longest serving political prisoners reportedly was released and is currently undergoing treatment at home for severe injuries sustained during his prison term. Lobsang Tenzin, in his mid-twenties, was a student at Lhasa’s Tibet University when he was arrested in 1988 for participating in popular anti-China protests in Lhasa that later led to the declaration of martial law in Tibet under the then Tibet party secretary, Hu Jintao. In 2011, while in Lhasa’s Chushul prison he was described being in “critical health condition,” suffering from severe diabetes due to which his eyesight had weakened sharply causing blindness at times.

Lobsang TenzinA file photo of Lobsang Tenzin.

He was initially sentenced to death but was later commuted to life imprisonment as a result of strong international pressure on China. Even while in prison, and despite severe torture he continued his political activism. In 1989, while he was still on death row, he wrote a letter supporting the pro-independence demonstrations in Tibet and together with three fellow prisoners and some non-prisoners co-founded a group called Snow Lion Youth for Tibetan independence. When officials discovered the existence of the movement, the inmates were brutally beaten and subjected to solitary confinement. Lobsang Tenzin was also put in shackles for 17 months and two of his prison-mates, Dawa and Migmar Tashi, who co-founded the pro-independence group, were executed in 1990 for allegedly planning to escape from prison.

Dharamshala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy earlier today said that Lobsang Tenzin’s release has “done little to gain him any measure of freedom even at his home in Lhasa. The Centre cited sources as saying that Lobsang Tenzin’s home is “heavily guarded and monitored by security personnel and other government officials who continue to turn away visitors”  including his relatives and neighbours. Phayul


May 2, 2013 another long term prisoner was released and in poor health after spending 21 years in prison. Chinese authorities in Tibet released Lodoe Gyatso, 52, from the notorious Chushul prison near the Tibetan capital city Lhasa. Gyatso was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison on murder charges in 1991. On March 4, 1995, while serving his sentence in Drapchi prison, Gyatso carried out a protest against China’s occupation, calling for Tibet’s independence, the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the unity of the Tibetan people.

thumb Lodoe Gyatso

Lodoe Gyatso in an undated photo.

Following his protest, Gyatso was severely tortured for over a month with prison officials pushing for his death sentence. As a result of repeated appeals by the Amnesty International and the United Nations for clemency, Gyatso was spared the capital punishment and sentenced to an additional six years. Phayul

Chushur prison

Chushur Prison

What does the future hold for Gyatso and Lobsang Tenzin?

Why did Chinese authorities let them out?

Why are Lobsang Tenzin’s home heavily guarded? And I suppose Gyatso’s too. If things turns for the worse now, are the guards there purely to take their bodies to yet again rob a family of being able to give a proper burial?

How come Amnesty and US are so silent now about Tibet??

Time will tell, the truth will come out….

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