p o l i t i c a l    p r i s o n e r s

Below are just a few of the many Tibetan political prisoners who are unlawfully detained as a result of their beliefs.

  • Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the fifteen year old 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet. Click here for more info.
  • Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, Tibetan monk and community leader who was sentenced to death in December 2002.
  • Drolkar Gyap: A 28 year old student, Gyap was sentenced in 1995 to 7 years imprisonment for suspicion of displaying pro-independence posters.

p e t i t i o n + a d d r e s s e s

Print out this petition form to help free Tibetan political prisoners, and write directly to top officials and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners.

RELEASED! Thanks to your efforts!
Phuntsok Nyidrol:
A nun from Michungri Nunnery in Tibet, Phuntsok was first arrested on October 14, 1989, for taking part in a peaceful pro-independence demonstration in Lhasa. She was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in the infamous Drapchi Prison. There, in 1993 she recorded songs with thirteen other nuns describing life in prison and their longing for freedom. The audiocassette tape was smuggled out of the prison, and all fourteen nuns were given sentence extensions and subsequently singled out for particularly harsh abuse. Phuntsok received a sentence extension of eight years, making her the longest-serving female political prisoner, with a total sentence of 17 years. Her sentence was reduced one year in April, 2001, and she was released early on February 26, 2004. She is believed to be residing with her family in Lhasa, though there is little information on her health.

Ngawang Sangdrol: A Tibetan Buddhist nun, Ngawang Sangdrol was first detained in 1990 for demonstrating for a free Tibet, and was imprisoned for "counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda" in Lhasa's notorious Drapchi Prison in 1992. In June 1993 she recorded freedom songs and personal messages on an audiocassette tape that was smuggled out of the prison; all fourteen nuns were given sentence extensions and subsequently singled out for particularly harsh abuse, and became known as the "Drapchi 14". Her sentence was extended again in 1996 and 1998 for "counterrevolutionary crimes in prison", the latter apparently as a result of her involvement in the May 1998 protests at Drapchi prison, and of additional individual protests. Just prior to reports in spring 2002 which indicated she received a small sentence reduction, she was serving a 21-22 year sentence, the longest of any female Tibetan political prisoner.

Ngawang Sangdrol was released in October 2002 on good behavior, nine years early, and just days before Jiang Zemin's final state visit to the United States. She is reportedly still in Lhasa, and her well being is of continued concern.

Click here for more information on the Drapchi nuns.

Released! But still under house arrest.
Chadrel Rinpoche:
The 62 year old former abbot of Tashi Lhunpo monastery, in Shigatse, Tibet, was detained in May 1995 for his role in the search for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. Held without trial for nearly two hears, he was found guilty on April 21, 1997, of "seriously jeopardizing the national unification and unity of ethnic groups, damaging the stability and development of Tibet, and committing the crime of splitting the country" and sharing state secrets. He was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment and 3 years subsequent deprivation of political rights. While held at Chuandong No. 3 Prison in Sichuan, he was denied all outside contact and even refused the right of leaving his cell for exercise.

In February 2002, the Tibetan Government-in-Exile received reliable reports that he has been released from prison and was currently being held under house arrest in Shigatse, Tibet. No further details about his condition or whereabouts are available.

Click here for more information.

RELEASED! Thanks to your efforts!
Takna Jigme Sangpo:
Tibet's longest serving political prisoner, 74 year old Takna Jigme Sangpo was released on March 31, 2002, on medical parole, after serving the majority of the last 40 years in prison. Released into house arrest in Lhasa, he was finally permitted to travel to the U.S., arriving here on July 13, 2002, where he sought preliminary treatment for his ailments obtained in prison. On August 15, 2002, he arrived in Switzerland, where he will receive full medical treatment and begin his recovery.

A former schoolteacher, Takna was initially imprisoned for criticizing Deng Xiao Ping, and his sentence had been extended for his defiance in prison. While in Drapchi, he shouted pro-independence slogans during a Swiss delegation's visit to the prison in 1991, resulting in his sentence being extended an additional 28 years. After years of intense international pressure, Takna's release came eight years before the expiration of his sentence.

Click here for more info from the TGiE.
Click here for a statement from and photo of Takna.

Ngawang Choephel:
A 32 year old musician and Fulbright Scholar, Ngawang Choephel was released from prison on medical parole, arriving in the U.S. on January 20, 2002. His release came after years of international lobbying on his behalf.

A Tibetan exile raised in South India, Ngawang studied ethnomusicology at Middlebury College in Vermont from 1993-1994. He returned to Tibet to document traditional Tibetan music and dance. He was detained in Shigatse in September 1995, and was sentenced in the fall of 1996 to 18 years in prison. His alleged crime was for gathering "sensitive intelligence" and engaging in "separatist activities" while conducting field research as an ethnomusicologist. During his time in prison he was reportedly dazed and in poor health. At the time of his release, Choephel had served over six years of his sentence.

Click here for more information.

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