For sending money abroad, Tibetan woman dies in Chinese police custody, her cousin still in detention

Lhamo, a herder from Driru county in Nagchu. (Photo courtesy: HRW)

(, Oct29’20) – A woman in Chinese ruled Tibet has died in police custody in August while her cousin continues to be in detention, prompting an international human rights group to call for investigation of the death and immediate release of the detainee. Lhamo, a herder from Driru (Chinese: Biru) County in Nagchu, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), died in a local hospital shortly after being transferred there from police custody, said New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) Oct 29.

Lhamo, a 36-year-old mother of three, was detained in June, two days after her cousin Tenzin Tarpa, a 39-year-old entrepreneur dealing in medicinal herbs and other local products, was held from the county’s Chaktse Township. Both are believed to have been held for having sent money to family members or other Tibetans living in India.

The group said that Lhamo’s family members were summoned to hospital in August. And they found the previously healthy woman in a badly bruised state, unable to speak. She was stated to have died two days later and her body immediately cremated to prevent a medical examination.

Calling the death the latest in a pattern of apparent torture and death in Chinese state custody, Sophie Richardson, HRW’s China director, has said, “Tibetan regional authorities should be held accountable for serious violations, including arbitrary detention, torture or ill treatment, and deprivation of the right to life.”

Sending money outside the country is not a crime under Chinese law. However, the authorities regard contact between Tibetans in Tibet and those abroad as “endangering national security,” the group noted.

Tarpa, a former monk, had been under suspicion of local authorities since 2012, when he was among a number of monks from the TAR forced out of the famous Larung Gar monastery in a Tibetan area of Sichuan province. Tarpa then started a Tibetan-medium school for children in Chaktse, but the authorities closed it down, contending that it was “illegal.” After that, he started the Local Produce Trading
Company, which became successful, the group said


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