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Prominent former Tibetan political prisoner Jigme Gyatso dies

Washington: Jigme Gyatso, a prominent former political prisoner, died on July 2, according to the Washington-based advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).

Jigme Gyatso, 56, faced multiple detentions in the past for his protests against the Chinese government's oppression in Tibet. He had openly expressed his thoughts on oppression in Tibet and his personal experience of Chinese security forces torturing him and other Tibetan detainees.

Gyatso had been unrecoverably ill since his release in October 2016 after serving five years in prison on a conviction for "inciting separatism." Facing further health complications, he was hospitalized in Xiling in May this year and passed away on July 2.

"Owing to torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment during his detentions, his health conditions had become unrecoverably complicated after his release from prison in October 2016. He was suffering from diabetes, hypertension, and heart, liver and eyes diseases. Low-quality health care provided to him by prison medical personnel during his incarceration, after his appeal for medical parole was rejected, and his inability to access professional private care after release based on his identity being blacklisted made Jigme's health deteriorate steadily over the years," the Washington based group said.

According to the ICT, Jigme Gyatso's death is part of a pattern of torture and mistreatment in Tibet. In May 2020, the Tibetan monk Choekyi died after torture in custody. In August 2020, a 36-year-old mother of three named Lhamo died in custody after apparent beatings.

In 2015, the International Campaign for Tibet documented the cases of 29 Tibetans who suffered torture and mistreatment while in custody, many of who died as a result of their ordeals.

Jigme is known for his defiant video testimony in 2008 that was shot in Tibet, providing an authoritative account exposing the Chinese government's oppression in Tibet.

In the video, he identifies himself and gives a detailed account of the cruel methods Chinese security forces use to oppress the Tibetans who exercise their freedom of expression, torture methods used on him and other Tibetans and conditions in detention centers. He also offers his thoughts on racial inequality, the teachings of the Dalai Lama and China-Tibet conflict resolution.

Although he had not taken part in the March 14 and 15 mass protests in 2008 in the town of Labrang, he was dragged into a white van by four security personnel while he was waiting on the street near his monastery for his shoes to be repaired.

Soon after his release from detention, he made his video testimony to give a firsthand account of the Chinese government's oppression in Tibet. (ANI)

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