Dharamshala — A well-known Tibetan political prisoner and outspoken Buddhist monk currently serving five-year imprisonment, was recently admitted to a prison hospital in anzhou, the capital city of northwest China's Gansu province, sparking fears he may have been severely tortured while in jail.
Jigme Gyatso Guri, 50, also known as Labrang Jigme, was admitted to a prison hospital in the provincial capital Lanzhou sometime early this month or at the end of February, sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"In early March, a judge from a Chinese court informed his family about his admission in the prison medical facility through a phone call," the sources said, adding that this has caused fear among locals he has been severely tortured again or worse.
"He is scheduled to be released from the Chinese jail in about six months," the source added. When asked about the reason for his admission, the Chinese authorities informed them that Jigme had no grave illness and asked them not to worry.
On 5 September, 2014, a court in Lanzhou, Gansu province, found Jigme Guri guilty of "actions to split the nation", according to earlier TPI reports. Splittism is a charge used by the Chinese authorities against Tibetans who express their national identity or who challenge the repressive policies of the Chinese government in Tibet. Further details of the charges against the Tibetan monk are not known.
Reports indicate that there are fears that Jigme did not receive due process in either trial. Tibetans charged with political crimes often are tried in secret, are not allowed independent legal representation and evidence against them is often extracted by torture.
Jigme was detained on August 20, 2011 by the Chinese authorities. On January 1, 2012 it was announced he had been charged with "splittist activities". In August 2012 news emerged of the trial held earlier that year. Since then there had been no information on Jigme's case or his whereabouts until news of the sentencing was received.
In 2008, Jigme was arrested following protests by fellow monks at Labrang monastery. During his month-long detention, he was tortured and had to be hospitalised. In 2010, the Chinese authorities held him without charge for six months for "political re-education". Following his release from detention in 2008, Jigme recorded a 20-minute video statement about his ill-treatment and the Chinese government's crackdown in Tibet.
In the video, Jigme says, "I, as a witness to truth, am telling through the media the story of Tibetans killed, who have suffered torture in prisons, and about the countless people who have been forced to flee to the mountains and who are too afraid to return to their own homes, so that the media can truthfully report on these situations."
Born in Lhutang Village, Juicha Township, Sangchu County County, Kanlho of Amdho Province, north-eastern Tibet, Jigme worked as former head of the Labrang Monastery's vocational training centre and vice-chairman of the Democratic Management Committee of the monastery.