Religious “re-education”

The following testimony was taken from an interview conducted on 5 December 1996 by TCHRD.

Tenzin Bhagdo, aged 23, from Lhokha of Drepung monastery, arrived in Dharamsala, India on 5 December 1996. He is one of the many monks who voluntarily left the monastery as a result of the threat of imprisonment by the Chinese authorities. Tenzin reports, “In order to carry out the full-scale campaign to re-educate the monks, a “work team” was sent in to Drepung monastery on 2 August 1996. During the campaign each monk was called to a secluded place and was individually interrogated by a member of the “work team”. The questions aim to oppose His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to denounce the Panchen Lama reincarnation recognised by His Holiness. Each monk was interrogated three times. If one does not give a satisfactory answer on the third time, he will not only be debarred from the monastery but is also sure to be put behind bars. I was interrogated on two occasions and both times refused to give the answers wanted by the Chinese.” Tenzin left the monastery before his third interrogation for fear of being imprisoned. The series of interrogations conducted by such “work teams” aim to bring the monks within the ideological fold of the Chinese authorities.

When Tenzin first joined the monastery at the age of 19 there were more than 800 monks at Drepung but at present there are only about 500 monks. To date, 300 monks have been expelled since the launch of the present campaign. Novice monks below the age of 16 were all expelled from the monastery. The monks who were left behind at the monastery were all weak, aged and incapable of performing their duties to the full. According to Tenzin, on 1 October 1996 four monks from Drepung monastery were imprisoned for their calls of “Free Tibet” and for pasting wall posters calling for “Tibet Independence”. Their names are:

  1. Ngawang Tharchin, 25
  2. Ngawang Gyatso, 34
  3. Ngawang Sangpo, 30
  4. Name not known, (sub unit Me-nyak), 25

All four are presently in Gutsa detention centre. Tenzin reports too that the Chinese authorities have announced the imprisonment of Jamyang, aged 24, also from Drepung monastery. The sentencing details and the present whereabouts of Jamyang are unknown. Tenzin Bhagdo was accompanied by Jampa Tsering, a 16-year-old novice monk from the same monastery. Jampa Tsering had earlier made an attempt to escape to India, but he was caught by the Chinese police and imprisoned in Dingri prison, along with 47 other Tibetans, for seven days. All 47 members were later transferred to Shigatse prison and imprisoned there for four days during which time no food was served. They were tortured while in prison by severe beatings and by the use of electric batons.

to top