Norzin Wangmo

Norzin Wangmo

A Tibetan female cadre in her thirties, Norzin Wangmo, has been sentenced to five years in prison for passing on news through the phone and internet about the situation in Tibet to the outside world, according to two sources including the Tibetan government in exile. Norzin Wangmo, from Ngaba Trochu county of Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Sichuan province, was convicted on November 3; exact details of the charges against her are not known. In a letter written upon receiving the news about her imprisonment, a friend of hers wrote: “In your thirties, the prime of life, the critical juncture when your child needs educating, you and other heroes and heroines like you parted ways with your parents, split up with your spouses, and made orphans of your children for the sake of truth, and had to take the path alone. Five years is 1,825 days. It is 43,800 hours. To have to spend the best years of your life in a dark prison cell, what misery!”

A further report received by ICT details the detention of an 81-year old man, Paljor Norbu, by People’s Armed Police on October 31 in Lhasa, according to sources in exile. According to a separate source, Paljor Norbu, who has been in prison before, may have been sentenced to seven years, and his whereabouts is unknown. Paljor Norbu runs a family printing business in the Barkhor, which has printed and published Buddhist texts for monasteries for some generations. The business has now been shut down by the Public Security Bureau, which also took many of the wooden printing blocks. This indicates that he is not accused of involvement in any protests from March 10 onwards in Lhasa, but possibly in providing publications. The same source said: “The family wants to know what prison he is in because it is getting cold, he is very old, and they want to get warm clothes and blankets to him.”

These cases are the latest in a wave of detentions and disappearances across the Tibetan plateau since an unprecedented cycle of six month cycle of protests against Chinese rule beginning on March 10. More than 125 protests across the plateau, involving monks, nuns, laypeople and schoolchildren, have been documented. ICT has gathered more than 900 names of Tibetans detained following protests or rioting across the Tibetan plateau since March, although many Tibetans on this list have since been released, often after undergoing extremely brutal treatment while in detention. Many Tibetans detained were not involved in the protests, but were under suspicion for being involved in encouraging others to protest, speaking to people outside Tibet about the protests, or other reasons. A list of 263 Tibetans believed to be still in detention is published in ICT’s report ‘Tibet at a Turning Point‘. A pdf list of 1,088 prisoners, half of whom are Tibetan, is available at the website of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China at:

‘An ocean of inexpressible suffering’

The whereabouts of Norzin Wangmo, sentenced to five years, is currently unknown and ICT has no details of formal charges against her. According to one report, Norzin Wangmo, who is also described by a Tibetan friend as ‘Walza’, meaning ‘courageous’, underwent torture following her detention in April.

A Tibetan friend of Norzin Wangmo wrote the following in a letter to her: “I am constantly hoping and worrying whether you will be released after seven months of torture in detention. This will give me a barrage of all kinds of mental torment. Yesterday evening, one of your colleagues and I were making various suggestions about how to get you out of prison. I said that I held about a horse’s mane of hope that you might be released. Now today (November 3, 2008) at around midday, I was devastated to hear that you have been sentenced to five years, and are to be taken in a few days to some prison in the interior. I also understood that they will not allow you to meet relatives or any visitors for ten days…To have to spend the best years of your life in a dark prison cell, what misery! That may be your glory, but as you know, an ocean of inexpressible suffering lies behind that accolade of glory. There is no certainty that the experience will not write the final word on your youth and affection, your dreams and ambitions. One thing that makes me happy is that they say you kept your confidence and attitude together while in prison. That is a great reassurance to me, for one. Dear friend!”

The Tibetan writer concludes that she will look after her friend’s son, saying: “Moreover, if you are someone who is prepared to go to prison for the sake of truth, your son can hardly be an ordinary person.