TIBETAN MUSICIAN CASE MARKS 40 YEARS OF HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNING
Now in his thirties, Ngawang Choephel, who is in urgent need of medical treatment, has been transferred to a prison in Chengdu city, Sichuan province, supposedly to receive hospital treatment. During a visit in August 2000 - the first family visit Ngawang Choephel was permitted since his imprisonment in 1995 - he told his mother that he had been on a hunger strike in protest at not receiving proper medical care.
Ngawang Choephel, who was born in Tibet in 1966 - though his family fled to India in 1968 - went to study music in the USA in 1994 and travelled to Tibet to make a film about traditional Tibetan performing arts. When he did not return home in December 1995 his mother reported him missing. A year later, official Chinese radio reported that he had been sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment for â€˜espionage' and â€˜counter-revolutionary activities'.
Ngawang Choephel's is one of six featured cases in Amnesty International's 40th anniversary year. At its launch on 28 May 1961, Amnesty International also focused on six cases and in the 40 years subsequent Amnesty International has taken up 47,000 cases, closing more than 45,000.
Amnesty International is campaigning for the release of Ngawang Choephel as a prisoner of conscience and is asking those concerned to write to the Chinese authorities in Lhasa, Tibet, urging the authorities to consider releasing Ngawang Choephel on medical parole so that he can receive all necessary medical care.
Urgent appeals are being sent to:
Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Government
Xizang Zizhiqu Renmin Zhengfu
1 Kang'angdonglu, Lasashi 850000
Xizang Zizhiqu, People's Republic of China