Lhamo, a Tibetan mother of three (left) and Tenzin Tharpa, a Tibetan businessman (right), both from Driru County of eastern Tibet. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala, India — A Tibetan woman died in Chinese custody after she was hospitalised with severe torture following allegedly storing photographs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with DVDs of Buddhist teachings by the spiritual leader of Tibet and allegedly contacting overseas Tibetans.

Lhamo, a 36-year old Tibetan woman, mother of three was arbitrarily arrested in June 2020 and was interrogated, severely tortured, beaten, and applied other forms of mistreatment by Chinese police for storing photographs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and for contacting overseas Tibetans.

"Lhamo was detained after two days on the same charges. Lhamo sent money to India through her cousin Tharpa," Konchok Rinchen currently living in South India told the Tibet Post International (TPI).

"The Chinese police raided her house and found a photograph of His Holiness the 14th Dalai lama and a cassette of his teaching. In August 2020 her family was called to Nagchu hospital. They found her lying in the hospital totally unrecognizable," Rinchen said, adding: "Her face was extremely swollen, bruised, and blue. She was unable to speak and could only move her eyes a little."

According to the Tibetan source, Chinese authorities found banned items such as photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with DVDs of Buddhist teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in her home. Authorities subsequently accused Lhamo of “separatism”. After torture and interrogation at the local PSB station in Driru County, she was held without charge for approximately two months.

"In June 2020, Tenzin Tharpa, a 39-year old man from Chagtse Township, Driru, trading in medicinal herbs and other local products was detained on the charge of sending money to relatives and other Tibetans in India," he told the TPI.

"After three days of staying at the hospital, her condition didn’t get any better. She passed away two days later in the hospital. The Chinese authorities forcefully cremated her body immediately to conceal the evidence of abuse on her body. Which made it impossible for medical examination," he further said.

According to the source, "families and relatives are not allowed to check her body as well. The deceased was a nomad with three young children. She was said to be in perfect health and no history of any old ailment so far. Her three kids are now orphaned and the youngest being only seven years old."

Tenzin Tharpa was arrested in June 2020. The Reasons for his arrest and whereabouts were unknown until recently. His family and relatives hired lawyers to find his whereabouts and later find him in a prison at Nagchu. The reasons for his arrest were disclosed to be him having contact and sending money to relatives and other Tibetans in India. He wasn’t given a proper trial and his prison term was unspecified.

Tharpa is a former monk at Larung Gar monastery, one of the largest centres for Buddhist studies in the world and he was expelled from the centre along with other Buddhist practitioners in 2012. He published two books titled,‘Non-violence’ and ‘visionary’(Gyangzin)respectively. He also started a school in Chagtse for children but it was closed down by Chinese authorities calling it ‘unlawful’. Since then, Tharpa was under Chinese surveillance. In 2014, he started a business in land, housing, and caterpillar fungus. In 2015, he set up Driru to produce a manufacturing factory.

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