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NGAWANG PHULCHUNG

Ngawang Phulchung

Ngawang Phulchung was adopted by our group as a prisoner of conscience, and for several years we have been working for his release. According to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Ngawang Phulchung, a 48 year-old prominent member of the Drepung "Group of Ten" was released after completion of his eight years and six months of prison sentence in various Chinese administered detention centres and prisons in Tibet. Ngawang was released by the Chinese authorities around 21 October 2007 from Chushul Prison. He was incarcerated for 18 years and six months of his 19-year sentence before receiving a six-month sentence reduction on 22 September 2005. The current physical condition of Ngawang Phulchung is said to be frail and has deteriorated over the years due to torture and inhuman treatments he suffered in the prison. Reports indicate that he is currently at his home with his family in Toelung Dechen County.

"Ngawang Phulchung is an exceptional case in the Tibetan struggle for human rights and justice. His dauntless efforts in voicing his opinion against the Chinese government's oppressive regime resulted in his repeated prison term extensions apart from the solitary confinements, beatings and torture that he sustained," said Jamphel Monlam, the Assistant Director of the Centre and one of the members of the "Group of Ten". He further elaborates by saying, "This release is yet another token gesture by the Chinese government before any major international events. The fact remains that he has spent the best part of his life in prison with physical and emotional scars that will last for the rest of his life," said Jamphel Monlam.

In April, 1989, Ngawang Phulchung, along with three other monks, was arrested on charges of founding a "counterrevolutionary clique" which clandestinely distributed materials calling for freedom, human rights, and religious freedom.  On November 30, 1989, the Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People's Court sentenced Ngawang Phulchung and other Drepung monks for  printing and distributing leaflets that included a Tibetan translation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a document entitled "The Meaning of the Precious Democratic Constitution of Tibet", which described a parliamentary system relying on the traditional principles of Buddhist dialectics to analyze the concept of democracy.  He was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment followed by an additional five years deprivation of political rights.

According to TCHRD documentation, there are 140 known Tibetan political prisoners currently languishing in a network of Chinese administered prisons in Tibet. Out of the 140 known political prisoners, 51 are serving prison term of more than 10 years and 97 prisoners out of the total are monks. Amnesty International calls upon the government of the People's Republic of China to release all the prisoners of conscience who are still languishing in various prisons and detention centres in Tibet for peaceful exercise of fundamental human rights enshrined in the constitution and various International human rights treaties and covenants.