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Tibetan Group: Imprisoned Monk Dies

November 20, 2002

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BEIJING (AP) _ A Tibetan Buddhist monk has died in a labor camp where he was imprisoned on charges of spying and advocating Tibet’s independence, a group allied to the Dalai Lama reported Wednesday.

Lobsang Dhargyal, 40, had been held at the camp in Machen county in the western province of Qinghai since October 2001, the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy said. It said he died Tuesday.

The center, based in Dharamsala, India, the base of the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exiled government, said Dhargyal had been abused and tortured at the camp. It gave no details. No phone number was listed for the camp.

China rules Tibet with an iron fist, locking up Tibetan opponents of Chinese rule and shunning the Dalai Lama. Critics say political prisoners are often held under harsh conditions, although their numbers have declined in recent years as China’s grip on the region snuffs out dissent.

The center said Dhargyal had been a monk at the Rabgya monastery in Qinghai, which was traditionally considered part of Tibet. He was arrested in 1992 and imprisoned for 3 1/2 years after printing and distributing pamphlets advocating Tibetan independence, it said.

Dhargyal went abroad after his release in 1995, the center said. He was arrested again in May 2001 in Tibet while returning to visit his mother and sentenced to 16 years in prison, it said.

Chinese communist forces occupied Tibet in 1951, and the Dalai Lama fled eight years later after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. China claims Tibet has long been Chinese territory, but many Tibetans claim they were independent for most of their history.