Takna Jigme Sangpo

Takna Jigme Sangpo, with Chhime Rigzin, head of Tibet Bureau in Geneva, upon arrival at the airport in Zurich, Switzerland.

Takna Jigme Sangpo, who came to the United States from Beijing on July 13, 2002, left for Switzerland on August 14 to undergo further medical testing and treatment there. He arrived in Zurich early in the morning of August 15.

Takna was the longest serving Tibetan political prisoner until his release from Lhasa’s Drapchi prison on medical parole on March 31, 2002.

Takna had a standing invitation from the Swiss Government to undergo medical treatment in Switzerland. His niece, Kalsang Lhamo Chapa, is accompanying him on his trip.

A formal invitation had been issued in the name of the Tibet Institute in Rikon, Switzerland, which Takna said he received while he was in the airplane. The Tibet Institute is the official monastic institution of the Tibetan community in Switzerland. The Dalai Lama’s Representative, Chhime Rigzin of the Tibet Bureau in Geneva, has been in touch with the Swiss Government concerning Takna’s stay in Switzerland.

Following his arrival in the United States, Takna began medical examination in Georgetown University hospital on July 16. Takna complained of chronic pain in his left side, in his kidney and his heart. The doctors kept him in the hospital for the next several days for observation. Doctors in Lhasa had seen him on July 7, 2002, just before he left for the United States.

Takna Jigme Sangpo was discharged from hospital on July 24, 2002 after a series of preliminary checkups and tests and is on medication.

On July 16, 2002, a State Department spokesman reacted to Takna’s release saying, “We welcome Jigme Sangpo’s release and hope that there will be other releases of those detained for the peaceful expression of their political or religious views.”

On July 29, 2002, Takna issued a public statement in which he credited his release to the many years of campaign and pressure by Tibet supporters, governments, individuals and public organizations in the international community, within and outside of Tibet.

“Above all, it is the fruit of international support for the fulfillment of the aspirations of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone,” Takna said.

“Most importantly, as I begin to enjoy a life of freedom and happiness, I am concerned at the fate of my former fellow prisoners who continue to suffer and languish in dark prisons. Therefore, I take this opportunity to urge strongly for the immediate release of all Tibetan political prisoners,” the statement added.

“Above all, I urge for your continued support for the Tibetan issue until there is a solution to our just cause,” Takna concluded in his statement. While in the United States Takna Jigme Sangpo met with Lorne Craner, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, Democracy and Labor, on August 1, 2002 and Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky, who is the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department on August 2, 2002. He urged the United States to continue supporting His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his endeavor to find a solution to the Tibetan problem. On August 3, 2002, the Capital Area Tibetan Association hosted a dinner reception in honor of Takna Jigme Sangpo.

Takna hopes to visit Austria in October to have an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is scheduled to be in Graz to bestow the sacred Kalachakra Initiations then. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy Lodi Gyari had conveyed a message from His Holiness welcoming Takna and inviting him to Graz.