Members of the ‘Tibetan Youth Congress, the ‘Tibetan Women's Association', the ‘Gu-Chu-Sum' Movement of Tibet, ‘Students for a Free Tibet' and the ‘National Democratic Party of Tibet' worked together to conduct the hugely successful vigil, which attracted crowds through the streets of Dharamshala in beautiful evening sunshine.
Jampa Pelsang, of Gaden Monastery - Tibet, died on May 23rd 2011, just seventeen days after he was released from prison, on May 6th 2011. He died of severe injuries, which he suffered at the hands of Chinese prison officials during his 15 year sentence. He was in his early thirties at the time of his tragic death.
Jampa was first arrested by the Chinese regime for protesting against the "Patriotic re-education" scheme, which the Communist regime had enforced in the institutions of Dsera, Gaden and Drepung, in 1996.
In 1996, Chinese Police forces were sent to Gaden Monastery to stop ongoing religious activities. Images of the Dalai Lama were removed, and patriotic re-education was enforced by Chinese officials.
During the crackdown, Dorjee and Gelek Jinpa - two resident monks, were shot and killed. Many others were arrested and expelled from the sacred monastery of Gaden. Jampa Pelsang was among the arrested monks. He was sent to jail for 15 prime years of his life.
His sentence was spent between Drapchi and Chushul prison. The Chinese authorities tortured the young monk to the brink of death. He was in his early thirties when he was finally released from prison, and died just days later.
In an interview for the TPI, Chokey of the Tibetan Youth Congress stated:
"We are here to mourn the death of Jampa, who gave up his youth and his life for Tibet. We are here to condemn the Chinese Governments Communist Regime for the atrocities occurring in Tibet".
The vigil arrived at the Main Temple in Dharamshala, with candles and Tibetan flags held aloft. Chants rang out across the courtyard, and photographs of the Dalai Lama could be seen held firmly in the hands of Tibetan Monks.
Choegyal, a political prisoner who was arrested at the same time as Jampa Pelsang, took to the stage. All eyes turned to him and a silence ushered out across the temple complex. He began to divulge to his captive audience the violent events that unfolded in 1996 at the hands of Chinese armed forces. He recalled how:
‘There was a scuffle. Shots were fired into the air. They shot Dorjee [the monk]. We pelted them with stones. 40 [monks] were arrested and about 25 were released after being detained for a few months'.
Unfortunately, Jampa Pelsang was not one of those who were released after a few months. What he experienced at the hands of Chinese authorities in prison highlights only contempt for Tibetans, and for even the most basic principles of human rights. He paid the price for his beliefs with his life, and on June 3rd, the Tibetan exiled community remembered his brave spirit.