Monk dies in prison

Jamyang Trinlay, a monk from Chamdo monastery, died from severe beatings while in prison last year, says his former fellow-monk, 16-year-old Sonam Woeser.

Sonam, who recently escaped to India, says that the “re-education” process is still in place in his monastery where a 40 member work team – all from the Chamdo “Religious Department” and all Tibetan – is in residence. “Some years ago, when I first joined the monastery at the age of 12, there were about 1800 monks in Chamdo monastery, but by late March 1997 the number of monks had fallen to only 1300. For the last four years no new monks were recruited in the monastery,” reported Sonam Woeser.

Sonam says that the Chinese work team arrived in the monastery in August 1996 and announced that monks below 18 years of age would be expelled. The abbot of the monastery appealed to the authorities not to go ahead with the expulsion or, if there was no other choice, to expel ‘Older monks rather than those yet to receive their formal religious education. Thus far the authorities have expelled from Chamdo monastery only the monks who were not originally from Chamdo county.

Sonam says that during the education sessions: “we showed our reluctance by various means. Unable to conduct proper sessions, they decided to confer responsibility for a particular group on each of the senior monks. If a monk failed to co-operate, the senior monk of his group faced imprisonment. During the session the monks were asked to denounce the Dalai Lama and to oppose the 11th Panchen Lama recognised by the Dalai Lama but the monks unanimously refused.”

In late March 1996, four monks from Sonam’s monastery were arrested for pasting wall posters reading “Tibet is an independent country’ at the outside gate of their quarters. The four monks, all from Tsawa Zogon county in Chamdo region, were: Soepa, aged 30; Sonam, aged 36; Jamyang Trinley, aged around 34 years; and anunnamed fourth monk.

The monks were detained for four months in Chamdo prison and in August 1996 Soepa was sentenced to two years and Sonam to three years. The sentence term for Jamyang and the fourth monk are unknown.

In prison the four monks were reportedly severely tortured and it was said to have been as a result of this brutal treatment that, in his third month of detention, Jamyang Trinley began to suffer serious mental problems. After his health deteriorated, Jarnyang was shifted to Tatsathang hospital but he was declared dead upon reaching the hospital. It is believed-that his, kidney was critically damaged from beatings.

The other three monks are currently being held in Powo Tramo labour camp.

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