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Lodoe-Gyatso-Tibet-2016Dharamshala — Chinese authorities have detained a former Tibetan political prisoner in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, on unknown charges.

Lodoe Gyatso, 55 from Sog County, Kham region of eastern Tibet, was taken away by police at night around 12am, May 14, a local source told TPI. The present condition and whereabouts of him remain unknown, sources said, added: "The details of his arrest in Lhasa also remain unknown."

After serving over 21 years in prison that included long-term torture and physical abuse, authorities released Gyatso from Chushur prison on May 3, 2013.

According to Mr Ngawang Tharpa, newly elected Tibetan MP, Gyatso's case became a cause for international concern after authorities called for him to be executed after he and other inmates in Lhasa's infamous Drapchi prison staged a large-scale peaceful demonstration on March 4, 1995.

Gyatso was born in Tsatak township, Sog (Chinese: Suo) county, Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). At the time of the Drapchi protest, Gyatso was serving a 15-year sentence after an altercation in which he was attacked by another Tibetan in January 1993, resulting in the other man's death.

While in prison, Gyatso met a number of Tibetans who had been convicted for political crimes. Together, they held a peaceful protest in which they shouted slogans calling for Tibetan independence and the unity of the Tibetan people across the country, as well as for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The prisoners distributed over 200 hand-written leaflets before authorities mobilized a severe crackdown.

Later Prison officials accused Gyatso of being the main organizer of the protest and appealed to the TAR Intermediate People's Court in Lhasa to sentence Gyatso to death. News of the possible execution sparked international pressure, including by the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, leading Chinese authorities to hand down a suspended death sentence that resulted in a six-year prison extension.

Despite his release, serious concerns remain for Gyatso's health as a result of the torture he received in prison. The long-term physical abuse to which Gyatso was subjected included a month-long confinement to a small, dark, solitary cell, during which authorities subjected him to daily interrogation and torture. The methods authorities used included hanging him in the air by his thumbs, resulting in permanent damage.