Profile: “Torture cannot destroy us: We did not die”

Fourteen nuns had their sentences increased while in prison on 8 October 1993. Despite being behind bars they were courageous enough to voice their feelings and belief on a smuggled tape recorder and distribute it outside prison complex. They were subjected to harsher torture and beatings and their sentence increased. Yet, they refuse to stay chained. They say: “Torture can not destroy us: we did not die”. Below is the profile of Ven. Jigme Yangchen who dared to offend the Chinese authorities with her courage and determination to speak for the sufferings of Tibetan people.

Jigme Yangchen is 27 years old and she is from Lhoka Kyeshe. She joined Shungseb nunnery when she was 17 years old in 1987. Her parents are very old, apparently in their late 60’s. They are farmers. She has two older brothers and a sister. She also has a younger brother who is staying with her parents in her hometown. Her sister is married and does not stay with them anymore. One of her elder brother who is a carpenter is in Lhasa and the other brother was a monk at the Sungrabling Monastery. However, his political enthusiasm and involvement in political activities cost him expulsion from the monastery. The younger brother who is currently staying with her parents also has a wife.

Jigme is described by an ex-nunnery and prison mate as a very gentle person. She is known to be extremely shy but intelligent. She is very determined and will strive to get what she wants and believes is hers. Apparently this determination and will wound her up in one of the most notorious Chinese Prison in Tibet, Drapchi, for an outrageous lengthy prison term. Jigme is currently serving 12 years imprisonment. Six nuns, including Jigme Yangchen, from Shungseb nunnery made plans to stage a demonstration in Bharkhor market place. They left together for Lhasa on the same day from their nunnery.

On 28 August, 1990, Jigme Yangchen along with other nuns of Shungseb nunnery held a demonstration shouting independence slogans. They started to walk from Tsuklakhang (Central cathedral) to Barkhor. Hardly 15 minutes passed after starting with their protest when Public Security Bureau officials came and arrested them. They were immediately taken to Gutsa where they were harshly beaten and tortured. After about 6-7 months in Gutsa their prison term was settled and they were transferred to Drapchi Prison. All the elder nuns in the group were sentenced to a higher prison term. Jigme Yangchen was one of those, she was sentenced to 7 years in prison. They were charged with “counterrevolutionary” activities. Mid way through her prison term, in 1993, she was involved with other 13 nuns in making a recording on a crude tape recorder smuggled into the prison. The recording consisted of all their names dedicating a song or a poem to friends or supporters. Their message conveyed gratitutes to those who had not forgotten them in prison, of the brutal sufferings they undergo and of their dedication to the common goal of Tibet and to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

This act of theirs was deemed “counter-revolutionary” by the PRC authorities and on 8 October 1993 all the nuns were tried. Jigme yangchen received an additional 5 years prison term totalling her sentence to 12 years. Today Jigme Yangchen is reported to be in extremely poor health condition. She is reduced to skin and bone and is very pale. She suffers from various complications plainly due to the numerous inhumane torture and beatings she has sustained from the prison officials while interrogation. Her brother in Lhasa comes to visit her during visitation periods. This is one of the songs/poem that they recorded on the crude tape recorder.

From my embittered mind
I sing a sad song
The Chinese have transformed our land of Dharma (religion)
Into a giant prison
The unending torture
which the Chinese have
inflicted upon us
Could not destroy us: We did not die.

Add your appeal to ours: address your letters to Mr. Jiang Zemin, President of PRC and send them to TCHRD for forwarding.

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