Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Labrang monk official who spoke out seized from monastery as detentions continue across Tibet

There are fears for the safety of a senior monk, Jigme Guri (or Gyatso), whose account of a period in detention following the March protests in his monastery, Labrang (Chinese: Xiahe) was videoed and uploaded on Youtube. Jigme Guri (also known under the honorifics 'Akhu' Jigme and Lama Jigme), deputy director of his monastery's 'Democratic Management Committee' and Director of Labrang's Vocational School, was taken from his monk's quarters at Labrang last Tuesday (November 4) by around 70 police and is now being held in Lanzhou, the provincial capital of Gansu province. Images included in this report show 42-year old Jigme in hospital following torture during his period of detention from March 22.

Labrang monk Jigme Guri, who gave an authoritative account of his earlier detention on a video in which he shows his face and gives his full identity, is now being held in an unknown location in Lanzhou, according to a Tibetan source. It is Jigme Guri's third detention, and there are serious fears for his welfare after he endured severe torture during a 42-day period of imprisonment from March 22.

Jigme Guri had not taken part in the protests at Labrang on March 14 and 15, but the authorities suspected him of being a ring-leader. In a video account later posted onto Youtube, which is now subtitled in English, Jigme described how on March 22, while he was waiting on the street near his monastery for his shoes to be mended, he was dragged into a white van by four uniformed guards. He was taken to a guest-house run by local paramilitary police near Labrang, in Sangchu county, Kanlho prefecture, Gansu province. Jigme's account of his ordeal, broadcast on Voice of America after they obtained a copy of the video, is published below in English translation. (The video can be viewed online at:

On arrival in detention, Jigme said: "I was put on a chair with my hands tied behind my back. A young soldier pointed an automatic rifle at me and said in Chinese, 'This is made to kill you, Ahlos [a sinicized form of the Tibetan word for 'friend', used by some Chinese as a derogatory term for Tibetans]. You make one move, and I will definitely shoot and kill you with this gun. I will throw your corpse in the trash and nobody will ever know.' When I heard this, I was not terrified by the gun pointed at my head but thinking that this man is not only a soldier or security personnel, but also a law enforcement officer; however, here he is pointing a gun at an ordinary citizen and uttering such words. It made me very sad, as if my heart was shattered into two pieces."

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