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Tibetan protester dies from prison torture after being released to hospital

Updated: Mar 5

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Please read our recent blog of another torture and death at the hands of CCP in Tibet:

Tibetan Monk Dies After Beatings, Torture in Chinese Prison



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Dead Tibetan Prisoner Was Major Source of News for RFA

RFA 1 March 2021 (format added)


The death in February of a Tibetan protester serving a 21-year prison term for sharing news of Tibetan protests with Radio Free Asia has temporarily slowed the flow of information from residents of Tibet’s Driru county, where local Tibetans have staged frequent protests against Chinese rule.

Kunchok Jinpa, aged 51 and a Driru (Chinese, Biru) county resident, had vanished in custody after being detained in November 2013, and died on Feb. 6 in a hospital in Lhasa after being transferred from his prison in critical condition, Tibetan sources and rights groups said.

Jinpa had suffered from paralysis and a brain hemorrhage resulting from torture in prison, and was at least the seventh Tibetan political prisoner reported during the last year to have died, either in prison or following release, from injuries inflicted in custody.

He had gone to live and study in exile in India in 1989 and returned to Tibet in 1998 to work as a tour guide, and was widely respected in his community, sources told RFA in an earlier report.

Jinpa had also been an important source of information for RFA, on protests in Tibet’s restive Driru county, where Chinese police have clamped down for years on communications to stop politically sensitive information from leaving the region.

On May 23, 2013, Jinpa called RFA’s live radio show “Round Table Talk” to inform listeners that at least 5,000 Tibetans were protesting mining activities planned by China on a sacred mountain, Naklha Dzambha, where similar protests had been launched two years before.

Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth for shipment back to China.

And on Nov. 13 that same year, Jinpa again called RFA to say that three Tibetans had been arrested in Driru for putting up posters drawing attention to the conditions of Tibetans lives’ under Beijing’s rule and calling for Tibetan freedom.

Wave of detentions The arrests followed a wave of detentions in the area of Tibetans resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, including orders by authorities to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes.

Villagers had refused to fly the flags, throwing them instead into a river, prompting a deadly crackdown in October in which security forces fired on protesters in Driru’s Sengthang and Trinring villages, leaving four dead and at least 50 injured, sources said.

Suspected by police of contacting RFA and other foreign news outlets, Jinpa was later arrested by Chinese police and sentenced to a 21-year prison term of which he served less than half before his death.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force nearly 70 years ago, and the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India and other countries around the world following the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.



Tibetan Protester Dies From Prison Torture After Being Released to Hospital

RFA 17 February 2021


A Tibetan protester serving a 21-year prison term for sharing news of Tibetan protests with foreign news media died this month in a hospital in Lhasa after being transferred from his prison in critical condition, Tibetan sources and rights groups say.

Kunchok Jinpa, aged 51 and a resident of Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in Tibet’s Nagchu (Naqu) municipality, had vanished in custody after being detained on Nov. 8, 2013, and died on Feb. 6, three months after being admitted to hospital suffering from paralysis and a brain hemorrhage, according to local sources.

Jinpa had gone to live and study in exile in India in 1989 and returned to Tibet in 1998 to work as a tour guide, and was widely respected in his community, sources told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Following Kunchok Jinpa’s return to Driru from India, he made a huge impact on Tibetans living inside Tibet by providing guidance and advice on the need for unity and education to preserve Tibetan identity,” Yarthar—a former Driru resident now living in India—said. “People adored and trusted him immensely.”

“Kunchok Jinpa’s death [at the hands of China] is a clear picture of the cost of disclosing true information from inside Tibet to the outside world,” Yarthar said.

After Jinpa was detained in 2013, Tibetans living in India faced an almost complete shutdown of news coming from Driru, a member of Tibet’s India-based parliament in exile named Ngawang Tharpa said, adding, “Many of us have had hardly any communication at all with our people there for six or seven years.”

“Kunchok Jinpa was a very important source for us, and he was a very brave man,” Tharpa said.

'Just the latest case'

One of hundreds detained in Driru protests in October 2013 against Chinese orders that Tibetans fly China’s national flag from their homes, Jinpa was also suspected of supplying information to outside media sources on a Tibetan protest against mining on a sacred mountain, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a Feb. 16 statement.

“Kunchok Jinpa’s death is yet another grim case of a wrongfully imprisoned Tibetan dying from mistreatment,” said HRW China director Sophie Richardson. “Chinese authorities responsible for arbitrary detention, torture or ill-treatment, and the death of people in their custody should be held accountable.”

“This is just the latest case of a Tibetan dying after being imprisoned for daring to defy the occupying Chinese government,” added John Jones, Campaigns Manager at London-based Free Tibet, in a Feb. 17 statement. Jones noted that news of the death of a young Tibetan monk detained for taking part in a peaceful protest had only recently been smuggled out of Tibet.

Tenzin Nyima, 19, was detained in August 2020 after distributing leaflets and shouting slogans calling for Tibetan independence, and died in January in Sichuan’s Dartsedo (Kangding) county of injuries sustained from beatings and torture in a Chinese prison, sources told RFA in an earlier report.

Of the estimated thousand Tibetans detained by Chinese authorities in Driru since 2013, the whereabouts of around 600 are still unknown, Pema Gyal—a researcher at the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy—told RFA.

“The Chinese government over the years has imprisoned many Tibetans like Kunchok Jinpa on false allegations, and many have reportedly died due to torture in the prisons,” Gyal said.

U.S. promises support for Tibet

In a statement Wednesday, a U.S. State Department spokesman said "The United States stands with the many Tibetans oppressed and imprisoned by the [People’s Republic of China] for the peaceful exercise of their human rights.”

“We urge PRC authorities to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the department said, adding that the U.S. will work with its partners and allies to press Beijing to engage in direct dialogue with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve differences.

“The United States supports meaningful autonomy for Tibetans,” the State Department said. A formerly independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force nearly 70 years ago, and the Dalai Lama and thousands of his followers fled into exile in India and other countries around the world following a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Lobsang Gelek for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.