Kashag Condoles the Death of an Ex-Political Prisoner
Dharamsala, 22 January: A former political prisoner had passed away at his home on 15 January, 2004 at 12:10 PM in Lhasa, according to reports from Tibet.
The Central Tibetan Administration today expressed its deep remorse over the passing away of Yeshi Gyatso. In a press statement issued here, Kalon Thupten Lungrik, the Kalon for the Departments of Religion and Culture and Education of the Central Tibetan Administration, said “The Kashag mourns the passing away of Yeshi Gyatso and sends its deep condolences and prayers to the family members of the deceased.”
Kalon Thupten Lungrik said that the Tibetan people owe a great debt of gratitude to Yeshi Gyatso for his unflinching advocacy of the rights of the Tibetan people under extremely difficult circumstances.
Yeshi Gyatso, a member of the Lhasa City’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, was arrested from his home in Lhasa on 16 June 2003 for suspected involvement in political activities. Two other Tibetans, Dawa Tashi and Bhuchung, students at the Tibet University at Lhasa were arrested with him.
Yeshi Gyatso was released from prison in mid-November 2003 on medical ground and because of mistreatment while in prison he has suffered constant ill health.
In August 2003, the Chinese authorities confirmed to foreign journalist visiting Tibet that they had detained Yeshi Gyatso and several others. In response to the questions by a reporter from Associated Press, the Vice Mayor of Lhasa City, while confirming the detention of Yeshi Gyatso, alleged that Yeshi Gyatso had engaged in “separatist” activities that violated the law of the People’s Republic of China. However, the Chinese authorities failed to clearly specify the charges over which he was imprisoned and the nature of his political activities.
Yeshi Gyatso was earlier sentenced to six years’ imprisonment in October or November last year in a trial by Lhasa city’s People’s Intermediate Court, reports said. But there were no confirmations about the sentence from the Chinese authorities.
On 27 June 2003, reacting to the arrest of Yeshi Gyatso, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa of the Central Tibetan Administration, urged “the Chinese authorities to release the three Tibetans who were arrested in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in the morning of 16 June.” Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche also urged “the Chinese authorities to ensure that the three Tibetans are given a free and fair trial and that they are not mistreated while under police custody.”
Yeshi Gyatso was first arrested in 1959 and spent 10 years at Lhasa’s Drapchi prison. He spent another 10 years in Sangyip prison and was subjected to labour through re-education. Yeshi Gyatso was a civil servant in pre-59 Tibet. He is survived by his wife and two children. He was seventy-one.