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Free Political Prisoners

The Panchen Lama, the second most important religious figure in Tibet, is missing. At the age of six, Gendun Choekyi Nyima was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet. Immediately after the Dalai Lama recognized him, he and his family disappeared and all the monks that were involved in selecting him were arrested by Chinese authorities. The senior monk in this search party was recently sentenced to six years in prison. Gendun Choekyi Nyima's whereabouts are still unknown.
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Ngawang Choephel is a Tibetan Fulbright Scholar who studied ethnomusicology at Middlebury College in Vermont. Ngawang grew up in exile in India and visited Tibet for the first time in May of 1995 to conduct thesis research on traditional Tibetan music. In September of 1995, Ngawang disappeared. He was held for over one year without being charged of any crime, but in December of 1996 was sentenced to 18 years in prison for false charges of espionage. Despite the fact that he was brought to the US on a congressional scholarship, the US government has done nothing to secure his freedom.
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Lhakpa Tsering (photo unavailable) was arrested at the age of 19 for joining a pro-independence group and putting up posters at his school in Lhasa, Tibet. He was sentenced to three years in prison. A year after his arrest, he refused to comply with increased restrictions in his prison and was severely beaten by prison guards. He died shortly thereafter.

Phuntsog Yangkyi was arrested in February 1992 for participating in a brief nonviolent protest with five other young Tibetan nuns. The nuns, whose only crime was singing independence songs, were beaten severely upon arrival at the police station. Phuntsog was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released as her health started to deteriorate from the torture she suffered. She died shortly after her release.

Gyaltsen Pelsang was detained at the age of thirteen with eleven other nuns for planning a nonviolent protest. Although she was never charged formally, she was held in prison for nearly two years. She was released, as her medical condition began to deteriorate. There are currently over a dozen nuns under the age of fifteen who are suffering in Chinese prisons.

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Palden Gyatso was arrested in 1959 for participating in a nonviolent demonstration in Lhasa, Tibet. He spent the next thirty three years in Chinese prisons, and suffered terrible tortures. While in prison, he documented the torture that was routinely administered to Tibetan prisoners, including forced labor, beatings with electric cattle prods, boiling water, and the brutal rape of Tibetan nuns. In 1992, as the result of an Amnesty International letter-writing campaign, Palden was released from prison. Palden managed to smuggle Chinese torture implements out of his prison and. Since his release, Palden has spoken from the mainstage at both Tibetan Freedom Concerts, testified before the US Congress sub-committee on Human Rights, been on several world-wide speaking tours and written a book "The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk" (Grove Press, 1997).

To demand the release of these and other political prisoners, send letters to the following people:

Write the Chinese officials:
Chen Kuiyan, Chinese Communist Party Secretary
TAR Party Committee, Lasashi 850000
Xizang Zizhiqu, China