After being hidden by a large police banner during her protest a little over two weeks ago, Gonpo Kyi (Chinese: Gongbao Ji), elder sister of imprisoned Tibetan former businessman Dorjee Tashi (Douji Zhaxi), returned to protest again on May 10, presumably in front of the Tibet Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court. However, this time Chinese police forcibly removed her from the protest site after first repeating the tactic they used last time of blocking the area around her from public view with barriers.
The status of Gonpo Kyi (also known as “Gontey”) is unknown after she was forcibly removed from the protest site.
The International Campaign for Tibet calls on the Chinese authorities to respect Gonpo Kyi’s right to freedom of expression. Gonpo Kyi must not be detained solely because of her peaceful protest. If detained, she must not be subjected to torture or ill-treatment. The authorities must investigate reports of ill-treatment and beatings of her during detention and hold those responsible accountable.
Hide and remove tactic
In video clips obtained by the International Campaign for Tibet, it is evident that police forcibly removed Gonpo Kyi, who was expressing her views peacefully in front of the court.
Presumably, this time Gonpo chose prostration as the form of her peaceful expression of opinion and thought, as a Tibetan Buddhist prostration mat can be seen in the clip when a group of policemen drag her. At least six policemen could be seen in the clip with two policemen’s badge numbers (151430 and 540077) on the left side of their chests clearly visible.
The police used a c-shaped police barrier on wheels to hide Gonpo Kyi on three sides and to extract her from the back, hidden from public view. During her last protest, they had used a large cloth banner to cover the area around her.
In more undated clips obtained by ICT, Gonpo Kyi is seen arguing that equality before law for the Chinese and Tibetans, officials and ordinary citizens, is a façade. She is seen accusing the authorities of not acting in accordance with the law to serve justice.
Below are excerpts from ICT’s translation of Gonpo Kyi’s statements:
The screen reads: First, let Dorje Tashi’s lawyer review the case; second, the court restarts the error correction mechanism.
Gonpo says: “To the relevant personnel, especially the Supreme Court, since you are the enforcers of justice, if my petition complies with the laws of the country, I hope that you will act in accordance with them. If my request does not comply with the laws of the country, I will bear whatever punishment you give me. However, if it does comply with the laws of the country [and you do not act in accordance to it], then you are breaking the law.”
The screen shows an image of Zhang Jun taking the constitutional oath in March 2023, assuming his position as President of the Supreme People’s Court.
Gonpo Kyi says: “Here, I am not referring to the new leadership of the Higher People’s Court in Lhasa … The laws of the country state that Chinese people and Tibetans are equal under the law, and that officials and ordinary people are equal under the law. However, are we truly treated equally? Officials often manipulate the law like a toy, whereas if an ordinary person like myself were to do the same, I will be levelled with a serious crime.”
Gonpo Kyi’s latest protest is her seventh known protest.
In June 2022, Gonpo made a video statement in which she pledged to persist with her protests until her wrongfully imprisoned brother is released from prison.
Dorjee Tashi was a successful businessman with membership in the Chinese Communist Party. At 34, he was the proprietor of a luxury hotel chain and real estate companies in Tibet before his arrest in July 2008.
For not entertaining requests for personal villas and other financial favors, spiteful corrupt leaders in the Tibet Autonomous Region framed Dorjee as a “secessionist” in the wake of March 2008 pan-Tibet mass protests against China’s rule in Tibet. After Dorjee denied any political involvement, as stated in his personal testimony obtained by ICT, political allegations were dropped during the pretrial interrogation, and he was indicted instead for “loan fraud” and sentenced to life in prison with deprivation of political rights for life by the Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court in July 2010.
The case of Dorjee Tashi is a stark reminder of the injustices that continue to occur in Tibet. As a well-known former businessman and philanthropist, he has been subjected to torture during his pre-trial detention, as documented by the International Campaign for Tibet.
With Dorjee currently held at Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No.1, where prisoners are known to face horrific conditions, his family is fighting tirelessly for his release and for justice to be served.
The concerns expressed by both the European Union and the United States over Dorjee Tashi’s arbitrary detention are a testament to the severity of the situation. The EU has called for his immediate and unconditional release during the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council in September-October 2022, and the United States has acknowledged his detention in both the 2021 and 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.