Congressman Frank Wolf (pictured above) recounted his visit to Lhasa’s monasteries, where monks and nuns led him to secret rooms to tell him of their lack of rights and the miserable conditions caused by the CCP. He also upheld that, contrary to China’s claim, Tibet is not a part of China. He urged that rather than simply criticizing or trying to contain the CCP, we should be questioning its entire legitimacy, because “China is running against the global tide of democracy.”
Lobsang Nyandak (pictured above), Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, stated that the purpose of the conference was to show that Tibetans are not pleased with the policies of the CCP, which encroach upon their basic human rights. The CCP is trying to indoctrinate its anti-religious, anti-Tibetan, and pro-Beijing beliefs in Tibet’s schools, cities, and monasteries through coercion and intimidation.
Nearly all of the Tibetan exiles in attendance had been unjustly detained and arrested for peaceful protest, and suffered physical torture and mental abuse while serving their sentence in the Laogai.
Tsewang Dhondup (pictured above) can no longer use his left arm after being shot by Chinese police while trying to help an injured Buddhist lama amid the March 2008 unrest. He also has scars from bullet wounds on his stomach, side, and back. Although initially he was not able to seek medical attention while in the Laogai, he still refuses to do so, as he believes that his arm and scars are a testimony and evidence of China’s oppressive policies and the injustices of a corrupt government.
Dolkar Kyap (pictured above, with translator at his left) was arrested in 1996 for passing out CDs of the Dalai Lama speaking and for putting up Tibetan independence posters while attending Northwest University for Nationalities in China. He recorded his experiences during his three years in the Laogai by writing secretly on cigarette cartons, which he later used to publish his book Prison Records. A replica of the cartons is exhibited in the Laogai Museum.
Ghang Lhamo (pictured above) was arrested in 1990 on suspicion of being a “counterrevolutionary” and for “spreading false information”; she spent three years in Laogai. She is currently the general secretary of the Tibetan Gu-Chu-Sum Movement in Dharmsala.
Jampel Monlam (pictured above) was a member of the Drepung Monastery and was also arrested for participating in a “counterrevolutionary” protest calling for Tibetan independence in 1989. He served five years in prison, and was expelled him from his monastery after his release. He is now the vice president of the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Ngawang Sangdrol (pictured above) was sentenced to prison when she was only fifteen years old, and was subjected to various methods of torture at the hands of prison officials. While imprisoned, she composed songs and various other works relating to Tibetan independence, which you can hear in the Laogai Museum. Her sentence was extended as a result, and she ended up serving 11 years.
Lukar Sham (pictured above) was originally sentenced to seventeen years in prison for peacefully protesting in 1992, but only served four years as a result of his poor health. He was released for medical treatment because he weighed a mere 81 pounds. Sham is currently vice chairman of the Tibetan Gu-Chu-Sum Movement in Dharmsala.
On Monday, June 11th, the Tibetan survivors shared their same stories in a round-table discussion at the Laogai Museum. The intimate setting allowed attendees to ask the survivors questions during their testimony and during the group lunch. ICT Vice President for Special Programming has written an article about his experience on this second day.