Profile: Struggle in Drapchi

Ngawang Pekar
Ngawang Pekar

Ngawang Pekar was halfway through his eight year sentence in Drapchi Prison when his sentence was extended by six years. Already being punished for his attempts to broaden awareness of the situation in Tibet, Ngawang had been caught by the Chinese prison authorities trying to alert the international community to the conditions for political prisoners in Drapchi.

Ngawang Pekar (layname: Paljor) is a 34 year-old monk from Drepung monastery. He was born in Toelung Aangkar under Toelung Dzong (county), just west of Lhasa. His father, Topgyal, and one of his younger sisters are still living in Toelung. Ngawang has a total of two younger sisters, one elder sister and three younger brothers.

His brother Khedup has served a five year sentence in Sangyip and Drapchi prisons. Khedup was a Drepung monk and, now released, lives with his father. Ngawang’s mother died while Ngawang was serving one of his terms in Sangyip Prison.

Ngawang was first arrested on 5 March 1988, along with three other Drepung monks, as a result of participating in the massive “March Demonstration” in Lhasa.

Ngawang was sentenced to approximately eight to nine months which he served in various prisons. He was first detained in Gutsa Detention Centre and later was transferred to Outridu, a “Re-education-through-Labour” centre in the Sangyip prison complex located in the outskirts of Lhasa, and then to Sangyip prison itself.

The sentence received by Ngawang was a relatively short one. This was said to have been a result of the general influence of the 10th Panchen Lama at that time.

Ngawang Pekar was arrested for the second time on 12 July 1989. He was alleged to have put up pro-independence posters and participated in demonstrations. He was also said to have spoken with and to be “linked” to certain foreign delegates and organisations.

Ngawang was sentenced to eight years, reportedly around the end of November 1989. At the time of this second arrest Ngawang was said to have been planning an escape to India. Ngawang was first taken to Sangyip prison and later transferred to Drapchi Prison in Lhasa. On 28 April 1991 a number of Drapchi prisoners, including Ngawang Pekar, were subjected to a massive beating by prison guards. This was a punishment to those who had not renounced their “criminal splittist activities”.

While in Drapchi, Ngawang wrote appeal letters to the United Nations and certain human rights organisations and was caught trying to smuggle out a list of political prisoners and a document describing human rights violations being perpetrated in Drapchi Prison. Such activities led to Ngawang being sentenced in June 1996 to an additional six years imprisonment.

It is reported that Ngawang is not having any health problems at present. He is described by a fellow prison mate as a “giant of a man”, reaching approximately six feet tall and weighing 180 gyama (90 kg). He is well-educated and fluent in both English and Chinese and remains extremely patriotic in his calls for Tibet’s freedom.

Ngawang Pekar is now serving a total of 14 years in prison, a result of his expression of opinion and his attempts to reveal to the world the conditions of Chinese prisons in Tibet. To protest Ngawang’s arbitrary detention, write a letter addressed to the Chinese premier Li Peng asking for his immediate and unconditional release and send it to TCHRD for forwarding.


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