Gonpo Kyi, the sister of Dorjee Tashi, a renowned Tibetan entrepreneur imprisoned for life on trumped-up charges of “loan fraud”, was seen expressing deep concern about his well-being and asking for permission to visit him in a video that was widely circulated on Thursday, 13 July 2023. Dorjee Tashi was initially arrested on 10 July 2008 on suspicion of making donations to Tibetan exiles in Tibet and providing covert funding to Tibetan protestors.
In the video, Gonpo Kyi says, “I cannot speak about my predicament and the truth. When I approach the prison or public security bureau, I am threatened with imprisonment and beatings instead of expressing my concern. Using this video is the only way I am able to clarify my concerns and plea.” For the past three years, the Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers in Lhasa denied Gonpo Kyi from visiting her brother in prison. After repeated appeals from Kyi, in 2021, she was allowed only once to talk to Dorjee Tashi through a video call. In the years that follow, she was blocked from making any contact with Dorjee Tashi in prison.
In the video, Gonpo was heard saying, “It is 2023 and I am still prohibited from writing a letter to my brother.” In July, they told me I would be able to visit him in prison, but the visit was cancelled abruptly and I am uncertain when I will be able to do so. After rushing to the police station in Lhasa on Wednesday, 5 July, Gonpo pleaded with the authorities to allow her visitation the next day, but prison officials warned her not to come and asked her to wait for their phone call instead. They threatened to cut off her communication access or imprison her if she persisted.
“They threatened us and we didn’t cooperate. They confiscated our mobile phones and everything we could possibly use as evidence to expose them,” said Kyi while raising concerns over the lack of freedom and rights.
Kyi further spoke about the repeated mistreatment she had to deal with whenever she visited the police station yet none of them could be recorded as she said the phones were confiscated. She further went on to reveal the beatings and mishandling she dealt with and how everyone from public security personnel to local police officers have all conspired against her. “The authority would recite a number of charges against me”, she said.
She also said “The Constitution recognised all citizens as equal whether they are leaders or masses. We could not film how we were being treated since our phones were confiscated. They would beat us and four or five policemen would be dispatched to handle one person alone”, Kyi added while demonstrating resoluteness to speak out the truth and expose the injustice of the Chinese authority.
“The law regards everyone as equal, Tibetans and Chinese. However, are they doing us any justice at all? Then I said to them that I would voluntarily accept whatever charges they press upon me if my request does not comply with Chinese law and constitution,” she said. When she urged the authority to proceed with her request in accordance with the constitution, Kyi attested she would be harassed and receive beatings.
“Both the public security bureau and the police station would beat us up. If they could do something like that then I can speak out on that. We have no access to record the situation. We have no choice but to comply with the beatings at the police station. However, there is no way we can record those since our phones are taken away. I speak the truth”, Kyi said.
Gonpo Kyi’s Previous Protests
In a video posted on 3 May, Gonpo Kyi condemned the unjust verdict against her brother Dorje Tashi. In her petition, she demanded that its judges be held accountable and punished for not following the law; however, the court did not respond. According to exile Tibetan sources, Gonpo Kyi and her spouse were apprehended by officers with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Lhasa on 26 April and released the following night on 27 April. It is reported that they were subjected to physical abuse, rigorous interrogation, and warnings about such behaviour in the future, while they were detained. In response, Gonpo Kyi said, “I will protest until they kill me.”
On 20 March, Kyi wore a white shirt with the words “The allegations against Dorje Tashi made by the Tibet Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court are untrue!” and stood in front of the court. Additionally, she obtained a copy of the judgment rendered against Dorje Tashi. Officers from the Lhasa PSB arbitrarily held her overnight following her arrest and beat her. On 21 March, a day later, a video recording of Gonpo Kyi being beaten up by officers in front of the police station appeared on social media.
On 31 March, the Lhasa PSB office summoned Dorje Tseten, Dorje Tashi’s brother, and told him that there was no chance of getting the decision against Dorjee Tashi overturned. Dorje Tseten was also warned that if he or anyone else continued to contest the ruling, they would face severe punishment.
According to the testimony of Dorjee Tashi, he was subjected to severe torture, beaten with electric batons, poured hot chilli fluid through his nostrils, denied proper food, and handcuffed and hung in the air. Later the Chinese court deferred his appeal process for six years and denied multiple meetings with his lawyer.
Gonpo Kyi continues to appeal for immediate release as well as a fair trial process for Dorjee Tashi.
-Filed by Tibet Advocacy Section, DIIR