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Monday, 28 May, 2001, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Amnesty urges Tibetan musician's release
Jailed Tibetan musician Ngawang Choephel
Ngawang Chophel was arrested making film about Tibet
As part of events to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its foundation, the human rights organisation Amnesty International is focusing on the case of a Tibetan musician.

In an urgent appeal, it said that Ngawang Choephel, who is serving an 18-year sentence in a Chinese jail, was in urgent need of medical treatment.

The appeal asked "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."

He has been transferred to a prison in Chengdu city, Sichuan province, supposedly to receive hospital treatment, the Amnesty statement added.

One of six

Ngawang Choephel was born in Tibet in 1966 - though his family fled to India in 1968 - and afterwards went to study music in the US in 1994.

He travelled to Tibet in 1995 to make a film about traditional Tibetan performing arts.

When he did not return home his mother reported him missing.

A year later, official Chinese radio reported that he had been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for espionage and counter-revolutionary activities.

During a visit in August 2000, the first family visit Ngawang Choephel was permitted, he told his mother that he had been on a hunger strike in protest at not receiving proper medical care.

He said he had liver, lung and stomach ailments, and possibly had a urinary tract infection and tuberculosis.

After that visit, Ms Sonam Dekyi said her son was very frail, just "skin and bones", with pale, almost yellow skin.

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10 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Jailed Tibetan receives visit from mother
28 May 01 | UK
Amnesty celebrates 40 years
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