Profile: The sacrifices of a man and his family

Namgyal Tashi is currently serving 8 years in prison. He has made an extraordinary number of sacrifices for the cause of Tibet. Namgyal Tashi spent his days painstakingly printing independence posters using wooden blocks and hand-crafting Tibetan flags for distribution. His family has also made more than their share of sacrifices. Namgyal Tashi’s son has also spent time in prison for independence activities and his daughter, a nun, continues to serve her staggering 18 year prison term. Namgyal’s wife died soon after her husband and son were taken away to prison by Chinese Public Security officials.

Namgyal Tashi, aged 65 years, was born in Nampa Tsalug under Lhoka district and lived in Tengayling in Lhasa. Before 1980, he worked in the stone factory of the Lhasa City Co-operative Society.

Namgyal Tashi subsequently began to distribute the Tibetan national flag and the leaflets throughout the region of Lhasa. In 1987 he participated in major demonstrations in Lhasa and in 1989 he went to Samye monastery (south of Lhasa) and asked the monks to paste pro-independence leaflets in the monastery and hoist the banned Tibetan national flag on the top of Samye. He then travelled to Dranagshol and Chedeshol in Lhoka district, passing the Tibetan national flag and leaflets to his friends as he went, and later carried his pro-independence campaign into Amdo (eastern Tibet) with great success.

On 13 June 1991, the head of the Lhasa City Public Security Bureau, together with armed officials, ransacked Namgyal Tashi’s home, confiscating pictures of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, leaflets and flags still to be stitched. Both Namgyal Tashi and his son Tenzin Sherab were arrested, leaving behind the 56 year-old mother of the household, Jampa Choezom. Suffering massive depression, Jampa Choezam died just three days later.

Namgyal Tashi was detained incommunicado for eight months in Seitru Detention Centre in Lhasa. He was later transferred to Drapchi Prison and sentenced to an eight-year prison term for alleged “splittist” activities, including involvement in demonstrations, links with “Westerners involved in anti-Chinese activity”, and distribution of posters and the Tibetan national flag.

Namgyal Tashi
Namgyal Tashi

Namgyal Tashi is described as a relaxed, easy-going man with a high sense of morality. He is very religious and never harms others. Namgyal has seven children and an eighth (the eldest) has passed away. Ngawang Choedon, 42 years old, is the eldest of the children; Rinzin Dolker is 35; Tenzin Sherab is 32; Tenzin Choephel is 28; Jampal Tenzin is 25; Ngawang Sangdrol is 20 and Pema Tseten is 17. As an aristocratic family, they were subjected during the Cultural Revolution to public humiliation and insult and Namgyal Tashi was sent for labour work without payment.

The sixth child of Namgyal Tashi is Ngawang Sangdrol, the longest serving female political prisoner in Tibet. She is presently in Drapchi Prison serving a total of 18 years imprisonment for independence activities and is not due for release until 2010.

Namgyal Tashi is due for release in 1999. He will never be able to see his wife again and will have to wait a further 11 years to see his daughter free.

If you would like to offer your support, please address an appeal letter to the Chinese Premier, Mr Li Peng, requesting the Chinese authorities to release Namgyal Tashi immediately and unconditionally, and send it toTCHRD for forwarding.

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