Dharamshala: - In the third of a series of special interviews conducted by American journalist Paul Eggers, Lukar Sham, Vice President of Gu Chu Sum college for Tibetan ex-political prisoners in Dharamsala, north India, speaks about his time in prison in Tibet and the future of the Tibetan movement.
My name is Lukar Sham. In 1992 and 1993, I was a participant in the Tibetan movement inside Tibet. I was arrested during that time and spent five years in prison. I was released for one year for treatment of health problems, then I fled to India.
When I arrived in India, I worked as a researcher for the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Then I joined Gu-Chu-Sum - the political prisoners' association - and now I am Vice President.
The movement in Tibet has many different branches. Mine started with some friends. We started by talking to educated people in universities and those working for the Chinese government, discussing the Tibetan situation and how the Chinese occupy Tibet. We held many meetings and discussions, and that led to my arrest.
The Chinese government accused me of being a 'splittist' from China and working against the Chinese revolution. But, as we said, since the Chinese occupation of Tibet, over the last 40 to 50 years we have no human rights. We cannot stay under the Chinese, so that is why we did these things.
There were two kinds of torture inside the prison - physical and mental. For me, they used a 'good-cop-bad-cop' method. When I was interrogated, sometimes I would receive support. Other times, they would treat me very poorly. I was tortured.
The overall conditions of the prison were awful and led to serious health problems for me. That is how I became very ill. Mentally, it was very challenging - always worrying about family and about friends inside the prison. We had lots of plans before jail but they were not a success. That made me worried and very disappointed.
The problem of being a political prisoner was not just mine - my family became victims as well. In the prison, my weight fell by 36 kilos through both mental and physical stress and torture. I cannot explain details of all the torture. When I was released, I could not walk on my own power and was confined to a wheelchair.
For my release to get treatment, my family gave money to the police, to Chinese officials, to the guards - making the corruption of the Chinese clear. They took a lot of money from my family. That is why a political prisoner's problem is the parents' problem, the siblings' problem, the cousins' problem, the friends' problem.
The Tibetans' struggle is still alive and is not hopeless. My countrymen came to the prison to see me and told others of our plight. My neighbors and friends and family came to see me. After I was released, they came to visit too. Others, who didn't know me, came as well.
The unity among the Tibetan prisoners was always very strong. When I was in the prison, many people would come not only for me - not as a sign that I was good myself - rather because we all struggled for truth together.
In the prison were nearly 20 educated people, including my cellmates Tsegon Gyal - a high police officer - and Namloya, who is currently in Australia. Before he was arrested, Namloya was in a 'Chinese education centre'. Also in prison was a man called Shawo Dhundup, who was principal of our school before he was arrested.
Tibet's situation is so critical. Tibet's future is part of all human beings' future. Especially important is Tibet's impact on Asia and the Chinese-Indian relationship. Today, Tibet and Asia's futures are both improving and worsening. The Tibet issue has become very apparent worldwide and new generations are aware of our struggle. The whole of Asia is improving, particularly in education - that is why I see hope for Tibet.
I feel it is important to think carefully - not to hurry - and we we musn't be careless about people's emotions. It is important for any movement to use emotion and logic together.
Our biggest problem is whether we can create pure humanism in our society or not. Will Tibetans as one people flow with democracy and law. We could go that way or not. Tibet's society for a long time has been ruled by theocracy and religion but, recently, His Holiness the Dalai Lama passed political power to democratically elected leaders and it looks like we are on the democratic path.
But, Tibetans' education about democratic rule and the construction of a free Tibet needs to be improved. Their understanding of what a free Tibet would look like needs to be improved.
Now, in our society, all religious leaders come up through elections and each person has a right to vote. We have challenged the Chinese government, and will go with other societies into the 21st and 22nd centuries to improve our culture and our government as well.