Spiritual head imprisoned for mining protests

Nazod Trulku, the spiritual head of Nazod monastery and its 200 monks located in the south of Serta County, was sentenced in August 1996 to six years imprisonment. Reacting to the escalating Chinese mining activities in the area around the monastery, Nazod Trulku had printed and distributed environmental protest posters.

The population of Serta city is 10,000, and today 80% of these are Chinese settlers, brought in to carry out the massive mining activities in Serta County, Golok Tibet Autonomous Prefecture in Amdo (incorporated into the Chinese province of Gansu).

Nazod Trulku was intensely unhappy with the “development” and environmental devastation and in June 1995, on the day said to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China’s “Peaceful Liberation” of Tibet, he decided to act. On that day Chinese authorities had called a public meeting in Serta county for representatives from various counties and the general public. Seizing the opportunity, Nazod Trulku, assisted by some friends, distributed independence leaflets and pasted wall posters protesting against the mining activities.

The posters read: “Because this land has been blessed by the appearance and births of successive Dalai Lamas and the high lamas, this blessed land is believed to be land of gold”; “Due to the mining in the area and the unavailability of food, many living creatures are starving to death”; and “As a result of the mining the protector gods are disturbed and unhappy, resulting in the break out of various new diseases in the surroundings. Livestock bear less milk than usual and farming yields have fallen”.

In March 1996, Chinese authorities found the wooden block used to print the posters and other related documents in Nazod Trulku’s house. The spiritual head was arrested the same day and taken to Serta county prison. He was kept there for five months, interrogated and tortured periodically.

Some sources say that Nazod Trulku has been transferred to Me-Nyag Ra Nga prison in Nyag-rong county under Karze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture but the exact place of his current imprisonment is not known. The information regarding his arrest and sentencing was provided by 24 year old Jigme Sonam, from Raktrom township in Serta, who arrived in Dharamsala, India, in June 1997.

On 28th July, 6439 signatures from 22 countries were submitted to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi requesting that Mrs Sonam Dekyi be granted a visa to visit Tibet in order to see her son, Ngawang Choephel, currently serving 18 years imprisonment on charges of “spying” for the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.

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