12/01/2018, 13.27
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Tibet weeps for the death of Palden Gyatso, defender of freedom

The monk spent 33 years in Chinese prisons. He refused to repudiate the Dalai Lama. In exile he denounced the torture committed under Chinese rule.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) – Tibetans mourn the death of Lama Palden Gyatso, who passed away yesterday at the age of 85 in a hospital in Dharamsala (India). The monk had survived 33 years in Chinese prisons during which he was tortured for refusing to repudiate the Dalai Lama.

Palden Gyatso died at Delek Hospital, surrounded by the affection of other monks, said Losang Yeshe, spokesman for the Kirti Jepa monastery.

He had been suffering from liver cancer for a long time and in the last period had refused further treatment because, despite decades of torture, his life had been long and full of blessings.

The monk was born in 1933 in Panam, central Tibet. In 1943, at the age of 10, he entered Gadong monastery as a novice. At the invitation of the 14th Dalai Lama, he moved to Drepung to complete his studies of Dharma and be fully ordained as monk Gelugpa.

In 1959, with Tibet under China, he was arrested and jailed for protesting against his country's occupation. Sentenced to seven years, he remained for 33.

In detention, in regular prisons and labour camps, he was forced to work and was subjected to torture that cause permanent damages.

Released in 1992, he joined the Tibetan diaspora in Dharamsala. From that moment he dedicated himself to denouncing the conditions under which he countrymen lived under Chinese domination and the violence that pervades communist prisons against Tibetans.

In 1995, Palden Gyatso testified before a US House subcommittee on human rights. "We prisoners were yoked to plows like animals to till prison land. When we got exhausted, we were kicked and whipped from behind," he said.

His book, The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk, was published in 1997.  In 2008, Japanese filmmaker Makoto Sasa made a documentary, Fire Under the Snow, about Palden Gyatso, after reading his autobiography.

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