Tibetan writer Sherab Gyatso. Photo:File

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New York —“The Chinese government should immediately and unconditionally release the imprisoned Tibetan monk and religious philosopher Go Sherab Gyatso and should be given comprehensive medical care,” said Human Rights Watch(HRW) on February 9, 2022.

The prominent Tibetan writer and educator Go Sherab Gyatso (Gosher), who was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison, is in deteriorating health due to the beatings and torture he and other innocent Tibetan political prisoners are suffering in detention.

In addition, there is not enough food in the prison and his family members and friends are not allowed to provide him with food. Since last year, more than a year now, his relatives have not been allowed to provide him with food, except for 10 kg of Tsampa (roasted barley flour) under the heavy restriction of the prison police.

“Close associates outside of Tibet say Go Sherab Gyatso’s health has recently worsened. He suffers from a chronic lung condition, and may not be receiving adequate medical treatment in prison,” HRW wrote.

“Chinese authorities have not publicly produced evidence to substantiate the secession charge against Go Sherab Gyatso. The charge typically refers to support for Tibetan independence. Human Rights Watch has found no indication of such support in his writings and speeches or statements from those familiar with his life and work,” the Human Rights Organisation said.

“The Chinese authorities’ determination to systematically silence Tibetan scholars is clear evidence that their aim is to devastate Tibetan culture, language, and religion, Go Sherab Gyatso’s immensely important work should not put him in prison at risk for his life,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

“Once again the Chinese government’s wrongful imprisonment of a Tibetan risks becoming a death sentence, Go Sherab Gyatso should be immediately released and given comprehensive medical care, Richardson said.”

“The eminent Chinese writer and dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was serving an 11-year term for “subversion,” died in July 2017 from liver cancer for which he received inadequate treatment and was denied foreign medical care. The prominent Tibetan Lama and philanthropist Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in a prison in Chengdu in July 2015, after serving 13 years of a life sentence for “terrorism and inciting separatism,” during which he was reportedly denied medical care for a heart condition and family members were allowed to visit him only once,” Human Rights Watch said.

Go Sherab Gyatso (Penname: Gosher) was arrested in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province of China, by Chinese intelligence officials in Lhasa, Capital of Tibet, on 26 October 2020. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a secret trial by a Chinese court in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, later in 2021.

Gosher had written books and articles describing the ongoing restrictions imposed on the people of Tibet living under the control of China. The writer is well known as an open-minded individual who advocates the preservation of the Tibetan language, religion, and culture. He has authored books and articles describing the restrictions on freedom of expression under the Chinese regime, while also believing in the equality of humanity.

Gosher hails from Ngaba county, Amdo region of Tibet, and was a monk of Kirti monastery. Deemed a skillful writer and a great teacher, he has on several occasions been invited to address students at the Northwest University for Nationalities and monasteries on issues related to Tibetan culture and the education of Tibetans, particularly the education system of monasteries. Gosher is also a successful researcher and has traveled extensively around China, India, and Nepal in the past.

In 2009, he published his first book titled "Time to Wake up", a book that quickly became hugely popular all over Tibet and the writer's work has been well received by both Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. He has published around eight books including "Common sense and path" and "Find your path by yourself.

In 1998, Gosher was arrested for the first time, when around 40 monasteries - including Kirti monastery - were subjected to Chinese authorities' "re-education" programs. In a response to this, Gosher made and put up posters describing the exact laws of China that the Chinese authorities were themselves seen breaking, including freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc. His actions then caused him 4 years of imprisonment, when he was arrested for being the one responsible for the posters.

After serving his time and being released, Gosher then went to study Buddhism in Lhasa, but, when the unrest of 2008 happened, he was found to be leading a group of Kirti monks protesting in the streets of Lhasa. He was promptly arrested again and had to endure more than a year of imprisonment before being released.

Over the past 70 decades, there has been ongoing political repression, social discrimination, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation, particularly due to Chinese migration to Tibet which is fueling intense resentment among the people of occupied Tibet.

The communist-totalitarian state of China began its invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.

Until 1949, Tibet was an independent nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse — a unifying theme among the Tibetans — as was their own language, literature, art, and world view developed by living at high altitudes, under harsh conditions, in a balance with their environment.