China cremates Tibetan village chief who died after prison torture

Lobsang Yeshi (inset) was jailed after protests over a mining compound in Dzogang County in May 2014. (Photo courtesy: RFA)
Lobsang Yeshi (inset) was jailed after protests over a mining compound in Dzogang County in May 2014. (Photo courtesy: RFA)

(, Jul25, 2015) – A Tibetan village chief from Chamdo (Chinese: Changdu) Prefecture has died in a hospital in Tibet’s capital Lhasa on Jul 19 after he was said to have been tortured by Chinese police during more than a year-long detention. Lobsang Yeshi, a 64-year-old father of eight, had been brought to the hospital from Chushur prison in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region. He was said to have died two months after he was sentence to a two-year term.

The immediate cause of his death remains unknown. He had been tortured since being detained in May 2014 after a protest in his village against a Chinese gold mine, said the exile Tibetan administration at Dharamshala, India, on its website Jul 23. He “sustained grievous injuries and suffered dizziness as a result of poor health” following severe beating in prison, it added.

Chinese authorities refused to release Lobsang Yeshi’s body to his family, said Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy July 23. However, following repeated pleas, his two sibling were permitted to be present at the cremation while a monk was allowed to say a brief prayer, the centre added. Radio Free Asia (RFA, Washington) said Jul 23 that his body was cremated on Jul 21 in the presence of his two brothers.

Lobang Yeshe, the head of Gewar Village in Tongbar Township, was among a group of senior locals who led a series of protests in front of the Zogang (Zuogang) County centre to oppose Chinese plans to mine gold in their locality. The protests continued especially after a villager named Phakpa Gyaltsen committed a protest suicide by stabbing himself and then jumping from a township building on May 7, 2014.

Lobang Yeshe was detained by Chinese police on May 12 with seven other villagers and detained in Zogang County for nearly a year, said the RFA report. He was later sentenced with two others to a two-year jail sentence and taken to the Chushur Prison in Lhasa City.


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