Doctrine divides, Action unites


  March 2014

Goshul Lobsang shortly before his death
(Photo from


Prisoner of Clear Conscience

Goshul Lobsang

I have a family. I have siblings. I have a wife and children. For them, I have sincere love and affection; and for the sake of this love and affection, I am determined to sacrifice my life. But for the sake of our own people, even if I lose this love and affection, I will have no regrets. I am an ordinary nomad who loves his people so I am willing to do anything for my people. I might lose this bony and haggard body that has suffered brutal pain and torture inflicted out of sheer hatred. I still will not have any regrets. I have the desire to follow in the footsteps of martyrs who expressed everything through flaming fire, but I lack courage [to do such a thing].

However, I don’t have the desire to bow my head in surrender to an environment which denies freedom to speak out against lies and to struggle for equality. [Therefore], I fell into such a situation [of torture and suffering] for which I, an ordinary nomad, have no regrets. What I desire is a free world wherein people can enjoy a life of harmony. I don’t want an atmosphere of darkness, a society wherein life is subjected to oppression.

I have no regrets, although all of a sudden I may be compelled to separate from the path of life that [I have been treading along] with my beloved mother, siblings, wife and children. I may have to depart with [feelings] of cold, heavy sadness, but I have no sense of guilt in my heart.

My clear conscience is my only asset in this world. I don’t possess anything other than this, and I don’t need anything other than this.

[But] my only regret that weighs heavily on my heart is the lack of a profound sense of solidarity among our people because of which we are unable to achieve a strong unified stand.

Fellow countrymen, we must have a far-sighted [political] vision and strong unity. We must have a strong sense of faith in our culture and tradition and a sense of gratitude to those who have contributed so much to our nation.

Fellow countrymen of the Land of Snows, we must all uphold unity. May this unity be sustained for tens of thousands of years!

Goshul Lobsang
Sept. 28, 2012
Dingxi, Gansu Province


Ed. note: In sharing this note, TCHRD added this information below about the life, struggle and commitment of Goshul.

New information received by TCHRD indicates that Goshul Lobsang, who recently died of injuries inflicted by torture, might have received injections designed to cause and exacerbate his pain while he was being tortured in detention. The use of torture methods to increase pain is consistent with other Chinese torture tactics. For example, the Chinese adopted Soviet torture techniques to inflict pain faster.1

A source who hails from the same village as Goshul Lobsang told TCHRD that he was arrested on June 29, 2010,2 by Machu County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers. For about five months, he was subjected to severe torture, including pain-inducing injections, and deprived of sleep and food by the interrogation officers in Machu County.

Another source told TCHRD that officers used sharp-pointed objects, such as toothpicks, to repeatedly pierce and penetrate into the tops of his fingernails and cuticles. This stabbing, applied with force and consistency, resulted in severe bleeding, swelling and pain, making Goshul Lobsang unable to temporarily use his hands.

Normally, the use of techniques to make torture more painful does not result in any further violations of international law as the fundamental question under international law is whether a person was tortured, not how much the victim was tortured. However, in 1974, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution on the Principles of Medical Ethics. While not legally binding on its own, the resolution recognized and emphasized a pre-existing rule of international law, i.e., that nobody is allowed to participate in torture. The resolution emphasized that medical professionals should not use their unique knowledge or position to facilitate torture.

The use of pain-inducing injections though on Goshul Lobsang to facilitate and expedite his torture was not only a violation of international law but also an extreme violation of medical ethics. The widespread and systematic use of torture in Chinese prisons cannot exist without the active and implied consent of medical professionals. The medical professionals working in Chinese prisons should use Goshul Lobsang’s death, and the participation of medical professionals in his death, as an opportunity to support medical ethics and oppose torture.

. . .

A source told TCHRD that Goshul Lobsang led a difficult life, harassed by the local authorities since his return from India in the mid-1990s. He went to India in 1992 to study in a Tibetan school. He was first detained in the late 1990s when many leaflets apparently calling for freedom appeared in the Machu area. He never accepted the accusations, and the Machu County PSB officers had to release him for a lack of evidence. However, he continued to be under police surveillance, making it difficult for him to lead a normal life. Thereafter, for some time, he left for Lhasa and other areas but later returned to teach English to fellow nomads and neighborhood children.

During the 2008 uprising, Goshul Lobsang took part in the protests that rocked the Machu area for three consecutive days beginning on March 17. He even hoisted a Tibetan flag outside his nomad tent in defiance of the Chinese authorities.

In January 2009, when leaflets calling on Tibetans not to ostentatiously celebrate Losar (Tibetan New Year) and the local authorities to stop colluding with human traffickers appeared in Machu, Goshul Lobsang and others shared these incidents on the popular Chinese instant messaging site known as QQ. The authorities thus had one more reason to target Goshul Lobsang after this incident.

On April 10, 2009, fed up with the authorities’ constant harassment of local Tibetans since the 2008 protests in Machu, Goshul Lobsang and some other Tibetans confronted the local officials in an attempt to clarify the matter. Instead of engaging in a civil discussion, the police officers started beating Goshul Lobsang and another Tibetan, Dakpa. The severe beatings prompted about 400 local Tibetans to directly confront the police with some local people raising protest slogans and throwing stones. As the matter escalated, the police had no choice but to temporarily release Goshul Lobsang and Dakpa.

However, the local authorities were firm in their resolve to arrest Goshul Lobsang as soon as possible, but they did not want to antagonize the whole community. Therefore, on April 12, 2009, local authorities called a meeting of major village leaders in Bhelpan Township and served them an ultimatum to surrender the five ringleaders of the 2008 protests, including Goshul Lobsang. It was around this time that Goshul Lobsang left for the mountains to escape arrest. He spent about a year in the wilderness without any access to basic necessities, including food and medication.

On June 29, 2010, Goshul Lobsang was arrested by the Machu County PSB, which held him for about five months in Machu County. On Nov. 26, 2010, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Intermediate People’s Court and imprisoned at Ding Xi, which is located about 100 kilometers from the provincial capital of Lanzhou.

He remained in prison for about three years in extremely poor health. By November 2013, the state of his health alarmed the prison officials, who decided that Goshul Lobsang should not die in prison. Shortly thereafter, Goshul Lobsang’s family members were called to get fetch him but on the condition that they signed a letter stating that his medical condition was caused by natural causes. The family had no choice but to sign the letter because they knew that he would not survive long and they wanted him to spend his last moments at his home. He was thus released on Nov. 29, 2013.

On March 19, 2014, at about 1:00 a.m., Goshul Lobsang died surrounded by his family members. He was cremated on March 26, 2014. He is survived by his mother Tardon, 73; wife Tarpey, 39; son Sherab, 18; daughter Dolma, 14; and unidentified siblings.

Goshul Lobsang was born in the village of Gyutsa to nomadic parents in Bhelpan (Chinese: Awangcan) Township in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) County in Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province.

1 Darius Rejali, Torture and Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 84.
2 Please note that this report contains new details that are different from our previous report on Goshul Lobsang.


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