Tibetan nomad Runggye Adak released after eight year prison sentence

Runggye Adak, one of Tibet’s most well-known political prisoners, was released from Mianyang prison on 30 July 2015 after serving an eight-year prison sentence for publicly calling for Tibetan freedom and for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Runggye Adak was known to be in ill-health whilst in prison. His current health status is not yet known.

runggye_adak_3Sixty year-old Runggye Adak (pictured right in an undated photo) was returned to his family at approximately 1am on 31 July having been taken straight to his family home in Lithang County by local police. Initial reports indicate his family were given no prior warning so as to prevent public celebrations. No further information is available at present on his release or his current health condition.

During his time in prison, Runggye Adak was subjected to torture and ill-treatment. In 20012, his nephew Atruk Tseten (a member of the Tibetan Parliament in exile) said that “as a result of the severe beatings… Runggye Adak’s hearing is impaired and [he] is suffering from a damaged eye”. More recently, Tseten had reported that his uncle was moved from prison on 27 July 2015 and taken to a hospital for a health check immediately prior to his release.

Runggye-Adak-speechRunggye Adak, a nomad and father of 11 children, was detained on 1 August 2007 after he addressed a crowd of several thousand Tibetans at a horse racing festival (pictured right) in Lithang (Chinese: Litang) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China’s Sichuan province).

During his protest speech he said, “If we cannot invite the Dalai Lama home, we will not have freedom of religion and happiness in Tibet”. He also went on to demand the Chinese government release the Panchen Lama and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche before promptly being arrested by Chinese security personnel. (Click here to see footage of Adak’s speech.)

Runggye Adak was sentenced in November 2007 by the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court to eight years imprisonment for “provocation to subvert state power”. During his trial, he told the court, “I want to raise Tibetan concerns and grievances as there is no outlet for us to do so.”

According to International Campaign for Tibet, the Lithang horse festival has been cancelled every year since Runggye Adak’s protest.
Further reading: New York Times | ICT | RFA
Background to Runggye Adak’s case (July 2010)
Concerns for Runggye Adak’s health (October 2012)