|[19 July 2016] Renowned Tibetan religious leader Khenpo Kartse has been released from prison in Chengdu after serving his full two and a half year sentence. However, he is not allowed to return to his monastery and remains under close surveillance by the Chinese authorities.
According to an online report Khenpo Kartse (pictured right) is staying with a relative in Jyekundo (Chinese: Yushu) prefecture in Kham (now part of China’s Qinghai province), but remains under close supervision by the Chinese authorities. He has not been allowed to return to his home monastery (Gongya monastery in Nangchen county, Jyekundo prefecture) and his current health condition is not clear.
Upon release, Tibetan political prisoners are routinely kept under strict surveillance by the Chinese authorities and often are unable to find work. Monks and nuns are often not permitted to return to their monasteries. Many former political prisoners also suffer from poor health, both mentally and physically, due to the harsh prison conditions and from being subject to torture whilst incarcerated.
In an undated social media posting, Khenpo Kartse wrote a short poem to thank his friends and supporters for their concern whilst he was in jail. The poem (accompanied by the photo right), translated from Tibetan into English by International Campaign for Tibet, reads:
“I am back once more in the human world,
Due to the immeasurable concern, sympathy, support, and well-wishes of you dear ones,
I am back once more in the human world.
For the duties that come with strong attachments,
All-knowing Three Jewels,
By the one from Yushu, on the occasion of his own birthday.”
Khenpo Kartse, now 40-years old, was taken into custody on 6 December 2013 whilst visiting Chengdu. He was charged with “endangering state security” when detained and later at a secret trial was sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment. No further details of the trial are known, but it is most likely Khenpo Kartse did not receive due process.
It is suspected Khenpo Kartse was targeted by the Chinese authorities as he was a prominent and influential religious figure. He had been actively involved in promoting and protecting Tibetan language, culture and religion in his community. Many senior Tibetan religious figures have been imprisoned on false grounds, most notably Tenzin Delek Rinpoche who was sentenced to life and died in prison on 12 July 2015.
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