Dharamshala: A Tibetan tour guide serving a 21-year sentence in Chinese jail died earlier this month due to prison injuries, reported Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Kunchok Jinpa, 51, passed away on 6 February in a hospital in Lhasa after being transferred there from prison. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage and was paralyzed. According to HRW, Kunchok Jinpa was detained by the Chinese authorities on 8 November 2013 without his family’s knowledge. In 2013, hundreds of Tibetans were detained from Driru county after a series of peaceful protests against China’s compulsory flag-flying campaign where the local Tibetans were forced to fly Chinese flags from every house. Kunchok was one of those detained. He was later convicted of leaking state secrets for sharing information to foreign media on protests in his region and sentenced to 21 years in prison.
Expressing deep sadness and concern, President of Central Tibetan Administration, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay remarked, “the tragic news of Kunchok Jinpa’s death due to torture and mistreatment while in Chinese prison comes barely a month after a similar death of 19-year-old Tenzin Nyima. China’s pervasive use of torture on prisoners of conscience is not unknown to the world. There are hundreds of Tibetans illegally held and tortured for their defiance of China’s rule over Tibet.” Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay urged for international intervention and said, “The international community and UN human rights experts must intervene and investigate these cases of arbitrary detention, conviction without due process, torturing and killing of Tibetans by the Chinese government”.
According to HRW, in November 2020, the authorities moved him from prison to a hospital in Lhasa in serious condition. On 29 January, his family members learned of his serious condition when six of his family members were called to the hospital to donate blood, according to our source. However, they were not allowed to meet him in the hospital.
Kunchok Jinpa died on 6 February. He was a resident of Village No. 5 in Chaktse township in Driru county, about 300 kilometers north of Lhasa. He was a former monk at the Gom Gonsar monastery(Choekor Jampaling) in Driru. After traveling to India in October 1989, he studied at the Jangchubling monastery in Dehradun for 18 months. Later, he studied at Tibetan Children’s Village School, Suja, and graduated in 1996. He returned to Tibet in about 1998. Proficient in four languages; Tibetan, English, Hindi and Chinese as well, he worked as a tour guide. He was a strong advocate of education and economic development.
According to Human Rights Watch, his final communication on WeChat was in April 2013 where he wrote: “I am now at the bank of a river. There are many people behind me watching me, and I am sure to be arrested. Even if they arrest me, I am not afraid, even if they kill me, I have no regrets. But from now on, I will not be able to give reports. If there is no word from me, that means I have been arrested.”
Last month, Tenzin Nyima, a teenage monk from Dza Wonpo, Sershul county, Karze (Ch:Ganzi) died on 19 January after he was severely beaten and tortured by the Chinese authorities.
– Filed by UN, EU & Human Rights Desk/DIIR