Profile: Doctor serving 13 years in prison

Jampa Ngodrup
Jampa Ngodrup

Jampa Ngodrup, a doctor from Lhasa, is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence in Drapchi Prison in Tibet. He was charged as an “agent” for his efforts to record the names of those arrested or injured during two pro-independence demonstrations which took place in Lhasa in 1988. Ill-treatment in prison has meant that Jampa is no longer able to walk without the aid of crutches.

Jampa Ngodrup is a 45-year-old man from Lhasa. Until 1959 he was a monk, and then practised as a doctor of Tibetan medicine at the Barkhor Nangrong East Clinic (Chengguan Qu Barkhor Clinic). He is described as being very straightforward.

Jampa’s father, Rinzin Lhundrup Paljor, was also a doctor who owned a private medical school and therefore it was not necessary for Jampa to undergo any formal education in medicine. He started studying medicine at home when he was just 9 years old, and around the age of 16 he started to practise.

The family has a long standing legacy of medical practice and Jampa Ngodrup represents the sixth generation. His father and mother, Tsering Palmo, are no longer living. He has one older brother, one older sister and one younger brother. All are medical practitioners.

Jampa was first detained, for unknown reasons, on October 27, 1987. He was again detained on 20 October 1989, and this time was held without charge for ten months until 13 August 1990 when he was officially charged.

Tried in Lhasa Municipal People’s Court on 24 December 1990, he was sentenced the following day. The decision characterised the verdict as necessary “in order to strengthen the unity of the motherland … and to stabilise the democratic rights of the people”.

Jampa Ngodrup, who allegedly “confessed”, was described as “harbouring counter-revolutionary aims”. According to Chinese authorities, Jampa had committed two crimes. The first was when he gave Lhamo Yangchen, a Tibetan woman, the names of some of those arrested during the Lhasa demonstration on 5 March 1988.

In December 1988, Lhamo Yangchen gave Jampa a list of arrested from the 10 December 1988 demonstration. Jampa made a copy of the list. Lhamo Yangchen was considered a “foreign resident” by the Chinese and the list was considered “state secrets”. As a result Jampa Ngodrup was charged under Article 97(1) of the Chinese Criminal Code. This article deals generally with acts of espionage and section 1 deals specifically with “stealing or secretly gathering or providing intelligence for the enemy”.

Jampa’s sentence paper was issued on 24 October 1990. It stated that he would be held imprisoned for 13 years and deprived of four years political rights. His prison term was to run from 20 October 1989 to 19 October 2002 and thus included the time since he was initially detained.

Jampa Ngodrup is presently held in the fifth Division of Drapchi Prison. In May 1993 he was reportedly severely ill from prison maltreatment. He is suffering extreme fluid retention such that his entire body is bloated, he is unable to walk without the help of crutches and it is suspected that he may have tuberculosis.

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