Tibetan Artist Tortured

This week the Tibet Information Network (TIN) reported a Tibetan artist who specialised in painting portraits of the Dalai Lama had been found in a state of severe shock in a public toilet in the Lhasa Barkor area soon after being released from a police Detention Centre.

Yungdrung, an artist aged 24 or 25 years from Nyemo, 150 km west of Lhasa, was described as “cowering with terror” when he was discovered on 27 October 1996, apparently as a result of having been tortured in custody. “He was unable to recognise his friends and did not know where he lived”, a source told TIN.

Yungdrung was reportedly arrested and detained for 58 days in Gutsa Detention Centre (3 km east of Lhasa) in connection with his portraits of the Dalai Lama, the public display of which have been banned in Tibet since April. Some of Yungdrung’s paintings are said to have also included the forbidden Tibetan national flag, although this could not be confirmed. Police are said to have raided his home and confiscated all of his paintings.

Imprisonment and torture for ideological offences by Tibetan intellectuals is unusual, and, if confirmed, the incident suggests a new and more aggressive policy by the Chinese authorities towards intellectual and artistic dissent in Tibet. Up to six other Tibetan painters are known to have been imprisoned for political offences since 1987, but these were imprisoned for their involvement in pro- independence demonstrations rather than for their artwork.

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