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Tibetan Monk, 19, Dies After Months of Beatings in Chinese Custody, Human Rights Watch Claims

Tibetan monk

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    A 19-year-old Tibetan monk has reportedly died after battling two months of alleged mistreatment under Chinese authorities.

    Tenzin Nyima, also known as Tamay, served at Dza Wonpo monastery in Wonpo township, Kandze prefecture, a Tibetan area in the Sichuan province of China.

    Image of Tenzin Nyima via

    Nyima was first arrested in November 2019 after distributing leaflets with three other monks according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). They protested for Tibetan independence outside a local government office because local officials allegedly pressured forcibly resettled nomads and rural dwellers to praise China’s “Poverty Alleviation” program.

    “Poor families are made to borrow other peoples’ cattle and furniture and so on in order to put on a show of having been made richer,” a source told HRW. Anyone who failed to do so “would be detained or punished.”

    Nyima was released in May 2020. However, authorities arrested him again on Aug. 11 for allegedly sharing news of his detainment online.

    Less than two months later, officials asked Nyima’s family to collect him due to his medical state. By Oct. 9, he had lost consciousness and was admitted to a hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital.

    Military forces perform drills in Dza Wonpo after protests in November 2019. Image via Central Tibetan Administration

    Tibetans familiar with Tamay’s case reportedly claimed that he was unable to speak and move. He also had serious injuries and an acute respiratory infection.

    These informants believe Tamay suffered from beatings, malnourishment and mistreatment while in custody, according to HRW. He died this month after spending weeks fighting for his life.

    “Chinese authorities have once again turned arbitrary detention into a death sentence,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.

    “They should hold to account all those responsible for the brutal killing of the Tibetan monk Tenzin Nyima.”

    Images of Tibetan protesters arrested in Dza Wonpo in 2019. Image via

    Six other Tibetans remain under government custody, HRW noted. Four of them are also monks from Wonpo, while two are local youths — one of whom is aged 16.

    Nyimay, a 22-year-old monk, was given the longest sentence. While he did not participate in the street protests, he allegedly posted about the other monks, including Nyima, on social media. His sentence will be five years long.

    Earlier this month, news of a Tibetan self-immolation protest surfaced after going unreported for five years. The victim of the protest, identified as Shurmo, 26, set himself ablaze at around 1 p.m. on Sept. 17, 2015.

    This incident brings the number of Tibetan protestors who have set themselves on fire to 157. They all fought against Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, according to Radio Free Asia.

    Feature Image via

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