China escorts home prominent Tibet political prisoner at midnight to avoid public welcome

A screen grab from a video of Runggye Adrak calling for Tibetan freedom, Aug. 1, 2007.
A screen grab from a video of Runggye Adrak calling for Tibetan freedom, Aug. 1, 2007.

(, Aug02, 2015) – A Tibetan nomadic village leader jailed by China in 2007 for snatching the mike during a horse racing festival’s opening ceremony in Lithang County of Sichuan Province to shout for freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return from exile has returned home a little past mid-night on Jul 31 after completing his eight-year jail sentence. He had also condemned China’s oppressive policies in Tibet.

China released Runggye Adag, about 61, in the middle of the night, with police escorting him home, in order to avoid a ceremonial welcome by a large crowd of people. Tibetans in his village are reportedly under a ban from speaking about his release or the case itself.

China detained him after the incident on Aug 1, 2007 and jailed him in Nov 2007 for allegedly “inciting to split the country” and “subverting state power”. The popular annual festival has remained cancelled ever since.

According to Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, Adag had told the court at his hearing: “I wanted to raise Tibetan concerns and grievances, as there is (otherwise) no outlet for us to do so.”

In prison too, Adag had continued to defy the Chinese authorities. Last year, he carried out a 33-day hunger strike in prison to protest the authorities’ treatment of political prisoners, reported Aug 1, citing two Tibetans living in India, including Lobsang Jamyang, a monk who is Adag’s eldest son.

Adag’s remarkably bold public protest inspired the Tibetan public at a time when China’s repression was at a new high and his detention provoked hundreds of them to protest before police and government office compounds in Lithang. Police threatened to shoot when tensions were at their height.

Authorities managed to negotiate an uneasy truce, but security forces then converged on Lithang in large numbers, and local Tibetan Communist Party officials in the area were replaced with Han Chinese, noted Radio Free Asia (Washington) Jul 31.

According to Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Jul 31, Adag was severely beaten and tortured in detention and later taken to Sichuan’s Mianyang prison before being released on Jul 30. The prison is located north of Chengdu, in low-lying hills that were the site of the devastating Sichuan earthquake of 2008.


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