Memories of prison labour sends chills

“The worst part of my two years in prison were the times when I had to go out for labour work during summer. While I was in prison there were two construction sites on which we had to work, one was a four-storey building and another was a factory for Tibetan medicine. I shudder now when I think of the workload we were subjected to. It still sends chills down my spine. Each day a group of seven men were erected to fill up 14 huge tractors full of gravel stone for construction. I worked half conscious like a zombie. The entire day would pass by and I would have no knowledge of it except that my body was in continuous motion. In the night when I returned to my cell, the pain would run all over my body. My muscles and joints would be so completely exhausted that even closing my fat would send a sharp pain to the nerves.”

Luesang is an 18-year-old monk from Dechen Sangak Monastery in Dechen township, Taktse Region. He wasn”t able to attend school and joined the monastery when he was 12 years old.

On 4 December 1994, when he was 16 years old, Luesang and three other monks made wall posters with Tibetan freedom messages and a handmade Tibetan Paper flag and stuck them on walls around Takste County. The other three monks involved were 16-year-old Gelek, 18-year-old Lobsang Jampa and 21-year-old Wangdue.

The next day, ten monks from the same monastery staged a demonstration around Lhasa central temple. Within a few minutes, the Barkhor police officials arrested all except two who escaped. Those caught were:Gelek (16), Wangdue (21), Lobsang Gedun (25), Migmar Wangdue (23), Norbu (22), Gyatso (24), Yoten(20), and Migmar.

Lobsang Gedun and Migmar Wangdue were thought to have spearheaded the demonstration and received the highest sentences of six years each. Norbu, Wangdue and Gyatso each received four years, Gelek three tears and Yonten two years. Migmar’s term is unknown. Except for Yonten, who was released, all are serving their prison terms in Drapchi.

On the morning of December 9th, 1994, 20 policemen came to the monastery and called the names of Lobsang Jinpa and Luesang. Luesang was taken to Taktse county prison for four months.

Luesang says that it was during the just three months in prison, awaiting the finalisation of his prison term, that he underwent the worst kind of beatings. He also remembers that the security guards were more expert than the policemen in their beatings and would hit them on the face and everywhere on the body.

Lobsang Jampa was kept for two months in Taktse county prison and then transferred to Gutsa Detention Centre. In the second week of March 1995, Luesang was transferred to Trisam Prison. The prisoners there worked from 10 o”clock in the morning until 8 o”clock at night outside the prison campus, mostly as labourers in Chinese factories.

Of the 13 monks from Luesang’s monastery, only three have released, including Luesang himself in December 1996. Luesang also reports the arrest of another monk called Pasang who is from Dechen township. Pasang held a short solo demonstration in his township and was arrested on 8 December, 1996. He was sentenced to 5 years in Drapchi Prison.

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