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January 21, 2002 -- NGAWANG CHOEPHEL IS FREE !!

Ngawang Choephel, the 34 year old Tibetan Fulbright scholar who has been in prison in Tibet since his 1995 detention for 'espionage' while documenting traditional Tibetan music and dance, was released this weekend on medical parole. He arrived on a flight from Beijing into Detroit at 10:48 a.m. yesterday.

Thanks and congratulations to everyone who worked so hard for his release! This incredible news is a direct result of YOUR efforts on his behalf. Every letter or petition or email you sent helped secure his freedom.

This should give all Tibet supporters renewed enthusiasm in our struggle for a free Tibet. While Ngawang's release is a cause for great joy, we must remember that there are still hundreds of Tibetans imprisoned in Tibet and China for their beliefs. Conditions in Tibet continue to deteriorate, and it is only through a political solution that human rights will improve. The international community must press China to enter unconditional negotiations with the Tibetan government-in-exile and secure a peaceful resolution to their brutal occupation of Tibet. The Tibetan people must be given the right to decide their own future. While political prisoner releases have occurred in the past, usually as a gesture to improve relations prior to major diplomatic events, this is the first time that the Chinese government has given a high-profile Tibetan political prisoner early release. This comes just five weeks before US President Bush's scheduled February 21-22 State visit to Beijing, and before the annual UN Human Rights Commission meetings in Geneva in March.

[ copyright | u.s. tibet committee ]

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