Dharamshala: - In the second of a series of interviews conducted by American journalist Paul Eggers, Penpa Tsering describes how his former role as a worker in a Chinese government office affected the treatment he received in jail in Lhasa.
Dharamsala: My name is Penpa Tsering. I'm 44 years old and was born in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. I studied in primary and middle school, then took exams and began work at the Lhasa City Office of Trade Management.
Whilst I worked there, I learned that my father and grandfather had spent a long time in a Chinese prison for the Tibet cause. They are now dead. Learning of their imprisonment motivated me to work for Tibet.
In 1988, there was a large demonstration in Lhasa for Tibetan freedom. I joined the movement and was arrested. I was an official of the Chinese government but still I was jailed.
If I compare my treatment in prison with that of other prisoners, I was treated well. I know the Chinese political policies and worked on them myself, so they could not torture me too badly.
They kept me in solitary confinement in a very small, cramped room for long periods of time. Otherwise, I did not experience much physical torture, because I was born in Lhasa, and stayed and worked there, and I knew the Chinese police. so I was in some ways ‘off limits'.
For other prisoners, that was not the case. During interrogations or during work time, the guards delivered very cruel punishments.
My father and grandfather experienced extreme suffering in prison for the Tibetan cause. I survived a Chinese prison.
My experience and theirs gives me incredible encouragement and deep motivation to work for Tibet.
Now I am in exile because of China. I cannot stay in Tibet. It is my hope to return to Tibet. I hope all Tibetans will return together. And I hope the Dalai Lama can return then too. That is my biggest wish.