DHARAMSHALA: Golog Jigme, a Tibetan political prisoner and social worker, who recently escaped to India from Tibet, spoke about the horrific details of physical torture and mental trauma that Tibetan political prisoners are put through by Chinese officials. He also urged the Chinese government for the timely release of Tibetan film maker Dhondup Wangchen and other Tibetan political prisoners suffering unimaginable torture and imprisonment in Tibet.
Addressing a press conference today at Dharamshala, Golog Jigme, aka Jigme Gyatso, said he was first arrested and jailed in 2008 for assisting film maker Dhondup Wangchen in the making of the documentary “Leaving Fear Behind”. He was accused of taking part in violent protests against the Chinese government and not making defamatory statements against His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Recounting his ordeal, Golog Jigme narrated his experience in Chinese prison, where he was brutally tortured, causing serious injuries including broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and damaged knees. “When I was first arrested, my hands and feet were shackled and I was tied hanging for 10 hours. Later, I experienced similar torture seven times, which often lasted between 2 to 5 hours. Even today I continue to have severe pain on the backbone and ribs and my knee dislocates whenever my body gets cold,” he said.
Golog Jigme was released a few months after his first arrest. However, he continued to be constantly harassed by Chinese police leading to re-arrests and imprisonments under false charges, including inciting self-immolations in Tibet and sharing state secrets with outside forces.
During his third imprisonment, Chinese prison officials tried to coerce him to visit a hospital for some medical check ups. It was later discovered that the Chinese officials were planning to kill him through false medications, which prompted him to escape from prison.
“After learning their plan to kill me, I decided to escape. On 30 September I slept at 8 that night. Of the two guards, one had to leave early for an urgent matter and the other slept at midnight. After praying to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and with some efforts, I was able to free myself from the chains. I noticed how other guards were busy playing Mahjong. As I proceeded towards the main gate, I felt lucky to find it open. At once, I ran out of the gate,” Golog Jigme recounted.
However, his escape and freedom was short-lived as he soon discovered that the Chinese government had accused him of murder, announcing a huge cash reward for information about his whereabouts.
“For two months I ran and hid across the mountains, after which I was shocked to find that the Chinese Government has blamed me for murder. They had announced a reward of 200,000 RMB for information on my whereabouts. The Chinese Government never made such accusation before when I was in their custody and I never had intention of killing anyone. I then thought of protesting this false allegation by setting myself on fire at one of the police stations in Gansu or Sichuan.”
“However after careful consideration, I decided not to proceed with the act: I felt perhaps because they were ashamed of my escape that they had to make such allegations; if I set myself on fire they would only continue to defame me by making such unimaginable allegations. But if I were to live I could continue to be of service to the Tibetan cause, and thus I changed my mind,” he said.
For one year and eight months since his escape from the Chinese prison, Golog Jigme hid across mountains, rivers and forests. He had been on the run until his sudden arrival in Dharamshala, the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration, a few days back.
Golog Jigme’s heroic social activities in Tibet including his assistance in filming ‘Leaving Fear Behind’ was widely recognised. He was recently listed among ‘100 Information Heroes’ by Reporters Without Borders on World Press Freedom Day.
According to the four-page press statement released on the occasion, Golog Jigme reiterated that the Chinese government’s vilification of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the forced re-education policies in Tibetan monasteries, the destruction of Tibetan language and identity, marginalisation of Tibetans and stifling the true aspirations and sufferings of the Tibetan people are some of the major grievances of the Tibetan people inside Tibet.
He also expressed his support to His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach to resolve the Tibet issue, asserting that 99% of the Tibetan people inside Tibet supports the Middle Way Approach.
The press conference was organised by Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) along with Swiss-based organisation ‘Filming for Tibet’, to welcome Golog Jigme to freedom and to support his exemplary social work in Tibet.