Tashi Phuntsok, a former disciplinarian monk at Aothok monastery in Lithang County, has died after a prolonged illness due to excessive torture sustained during his incarceration. In 2002, he was brutally tortured by Chinese authorities for over a year while in custody.
[Posted on T.T Tibetan Site 19th March 2020] Fellow political prisoner Geshe Tsering Dorjii of Drepung Gomang monastery, who comes from the same Tibetan region as the late Tashi Phuntsok, telephoned Tibet Times that Tashi Phtonsok had passed away after a prolonged illness on the 17th March 2020 at the age of 60.
Tashi Phuntsok had been arrested for an alleged connection to Late Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who was falsely charged with a bomb blast in April 2002. When asked about the actual cause of his death, Geshe Tsering Dorji said that in 2002, a week after the arrest of Rinpoche, Tashi Phuntsok was apprehended. He had been a disciplinarian monk at Aothok monastery at the time. During his incarceration for about a year, he was beaten and tortured so severely that the Chinese government handed him over to his family, stating it he was released because of a health complication.
Geshe Tsering Dorjii reported that when Tashi Phuntsok was arrested, he was young and extremely healthy. When his family went to get him from prison after a year of imprisonment, he looked like an AIDS patient with his body depleted down to his skin and skeleton, resembling a child. His health had deteriorated to a state where his relatives had to carry him in their arms.
“The cause of his death was because of false charges by the Chinese government that sent him to prison, where he suffered severe torture resulting in multiple health complications”, Geshe Tsering Dorji said.
After his arrest by the Chinese government, he was sentenced to seven years in prison by the Karze People’s Intermediate Court. However, he was handed over to his family after just over a year of incarceration as his health deteriorated, and he almost died in the hospital.
Tashi Phuntsok was a disciplinarian monk at Aothok monastery, also known as Kham Nalanda Thekchen Jangchub Choeling monastery which late Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche founded. When asked if he was arrested on earlier occasions, Geshe Tsering Dorji revealed that in 1993, he had led a large number of local Tibetans against a deforestation drive by the Ngachu Forest Department near Aothok village no. 6. He evaded arrest at the time. However, he was later arrested along with many others in connection with Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s bomb blast investigation.
The Chinese government has brutally tortured many political prisoners, while subjecting them to heavy labor, denying them proper medical care, and withholding basic necessities. As a result, when they suffer from serious health issues, and their condition is hopelessly critical, they are handed over to their families to avoid ‘death in detention’ on their death reports.
On March 19, 2014, former political prisoner Goshul Lobsang died at his home aged just 23. He was arrested on May 16, 2010, and sentenced to 12 years in prison in December of the same year for his involvement in the nationwide uprising. He was sent to the Lantu jail but handed over to his family on October 27, 2013. He was found in extremely poor health due to excessive beating and torture. He eventually passed away despite his family caring for him for an extended time.