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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 08:29 GMT
Tibetan monk 'broken' by China
A Tibetan monk imprisoned by China for nearly three years can no longer walk or speak clearly, according to US-based Human Rights Watch.

Tashi Phuntsog, who was released earlier this month, worked with a prominent lama, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, whom China has branded a "terrorist".

Human Rights Watch said Tashi Phuntsog needed immediate medical attention after being "physically broken".

The group called on China to explain the monk's deterioration in custody.

"Tashi Phuntsog entered prison as a healthy man in his early 40s, and he was cast out literally as a broken man," it said.

Tashi Phuntsog was detained in 2002, 10 days after Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche.

We welcome Tashi Phuntsog's early release, but Chinese officials have to explain how they allowed this to happen to someone in their custody
Human Rights Watch

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche was later tried and sentenced to death for carrying out bomb attacks in Ganzi and Chengdu, in south-west China, although human rights groups dismissed the charges as groundless.

China subsequently suspended the death penalty, and on Wednesday state media reported that his sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment.

The Chinese authorities have never said what Tashi Phuntsog was sentenced for, or why he was released early.

Before his release, he served nearly three years of a seven-year sentence, and was held in Kangding prison, near Chengdu.

Human Rights Watch said that as well as working with Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, he had also been instrumental in stopping a government deforestation programme.

The area where the bomb attacks allegedly took place has a large ethnic Tibetan population and a history of independence activity.

China, which invaded and occupied Tibet in 1950, has been regularly criticised for its treatment of Tibetans and any separatist ambitions.

Clemency call for Tibetan monk
02 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
More Tibetans held in China
11 Mar 03 |  Asia-Pacific
More arrests in Tibetan bomb case
22 Jan 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Tibet sentences condemned
05 Dec 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Death sentence for Tibetan 'bombers'
05 Dec 02 |  Asia-Pacific


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