08/23/2013, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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After Tibetan dies in prison, sit-in forces authorities to admit guilt

Arrested for theft, Guldrak was beaten to death during police interrogation. At first, the authorities said he committed suicide, but a sit-in of 500 Tibetans forced them to admit to unlawful death. The family is compensated, but no one opens an investigation to punish those responsible.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - The death of a Tibetan in prison sparked protests in Maywa Township, eastern Tibet, eventually forcing the authorities to admit police brutality.

According to some sources, 29-year-old Guldrak died after Rinchen, head of the Public Security Bureau in Maywa Township, beat him.

Initially, local Communist officials tried to pass off the death as "suicide," but more than 500 Tibetans staged a sit-in demanding the truth.

This is the second death in prison since the beginning of the year.

According to Free Tibet, which has been able to confirm several elements of the story, Guldrak was arrested on 8 August for theft.

During his interrogation in prison, some police officers, led by their leader, beat him to death.

The authorities first refused to hand the body over to the family, claiming that he had committed suicide and that he had already been buried.  In response to local protest, police eventually acknowledged responsibility for Guldrak's death.

Local authorities offered the family 50,000 Yuan (US$ 8,000) for the funeral and another 500,000 Yuan as compensation (US$ 80,000). They failed however to launch a criminal investigation against the culprits who are still free.

This is the second case of its kind in Tibet this year, sources and witnesses said. Since the matter is eminently political, it is impossible to know at this point what actually happened.

"Chinese security forces in Tibet violate the basic principles of human rights and China's own laws with impunity," Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said. "Despite pious words in China's constitution and some recent improvements in its laws, legal protection for anyone accused of political crimes remains almost non-existent and as this case shows, for all Tibetans the rule of law is a fiction."

Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article.

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