12/06/2014, 00.00
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Tibetan political prisoner dies from torture inflicted by Chinese police

by Nirmala Carvalho
Tenzin Choedak, 33, had served nearly six years of a 15-year prison sentence. He was in bad physical conditions because of abuse suffered during interrogation and never treated. Before his arrest, he cooperated with the Red Cross.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews/TCHRD) - A Tibetan political prisoner died yesterday afternoon in Lhasa's Mentsekhang Hospital. Tenzin Choedak, 33, had served nearly six years of a 15-year sentence he received in 2009.

According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), which reported the death today, his death is the consequence of torture in prison.

Also going by the name of Tenchoe, Tenzin worked before his arrest for a European NGO associated with the Red Cross.

In early November, his health condition deteriorated, forcing Chushur prison authorities to hospitalise him three times in three different hospitals.

Two days before his death, when doctors realised that there was nothing more they could do, police released him to his family.

Son of Khedup and Passang, Tenzin Choedak was born in October 1981 in village of Gyabum Gang, north of Lhasa (Tibet Autonomous Region).

In 1990, he fled to India, in Dharamsala, where he studied at the Upper Tibetan Children's Village School.

After his studies, he returned to Lhasa in 2005. After that, he began working for an NGO affiliated with the Red Cross, dealing with environmental protection projects in Lhasa and Shigatse.

The Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) took him into custody in April 2008 on the charge that he acted as one of the ringleaders for the March 2008 anti-Chinese protest in Lhasa City.

Sources told TCHRD that during police detention and interrogation, Tenchoe was severely beaten and tortured.

A court in Lhasa later sentenced him to 15 years as well as a fine of 10,000 yuan (US$ 1,600).

According to another source, his condition worsened while in prison, as the injuries he sustained in police detention got worse and he had to make frequent trips to hospitals accompanied by prison guards.

"Tenchoe was brought to one of the hospitals with his hands and legs heavily shackled. He was almost unrecognizable," the source said.

In recent days, "His physical condition had deteriorated and he had brain injury in addition to vomiting blood," sources told the TCHRD.

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