It is so exciting to be able to send you all this amazing news:
Ngawang Sangdrol was freed today from Drapchi prison! She has spent the last 10 years in jail for participating in peaceful protests for Tibetan independence and for singing freedom songs - she is only 24 years old. Ngawang was not due to be released until November 2011. To read more about Ngawang Sangdrol's case please go to: http://www.drapchi14.org/drapchi14/nuns/NgawangSangdrol.php
While China has certainly orchestrated her release as a goodwill gesture to coincide with Jiang Zemin's last visit to the United States as the President of China, Ngawang's freedom is a direct result of your actions on her behalf. It is only through grassroots pressure that political prisoners like Ngawang Sangdrol are made into high profile cases, demanding the attention of international governments.
SFT's Grassroots Coordinator, Alma David, called Choeying Kunsang and Passang Lhamo in India, the two Tibetan nuns and ex-political prisoners whom SFT sponsored on a speaking tour earlier this year, to make sure that they had heard the good news. They weren't able to come to the phone but they had heard this news and are absolutely ecstatic. There is no doubt in our minds that their worldwide speaking tour contributed greatly to the international pressure on China that led to Ngawang Sangdrol's release.
We must keep up the pressure on the Chinese leadership. When Jiang Zemin is in the U.S. next week we have to make sure he knows that releasing one political prisoner is NOT ENOUGH! We will continue our fight UNTIL TIBET IS FREE!
If you live near Chicago our Houston and would like to join the protests against Jiang Zemin please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you aren't able to join us but want to make a donation to help, please either go to the SFT web site http://www.tibet.org/sft/membership/donate.html and make a credit card donation or mail a check payable to Students for a Free Tibet to SFT, 602 East 14 Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10009. Please make sure to indicate that your donation is for "Jiang Zemin Protests."
Copied below is SFT's press release about this amazing victory.
Thank you everyone, everywhere for all of your hard work.
We leave you with the words of Jean-paul Sartre who once said, in reference to Algeria, "First attempt to free the prisoners because they will lead the revolution." With Ngawang's release we are one step closer!
BOD RANGZEN! FREE TIBET!
With love, Lhadon, Alma, John, Freya, Thupten & Becky
Students for a Free Tibet
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2002
Contact: Lhadon Tethong: (212) 358.0071 cell: (917) 418.4181
Alma David: (212) 358.0071 cell: (347) 538.5362
Tibetan Nun Freed on Eve of Jiang Zemins visit to the United States
New York Ngawang Sangdrol, a 24 year-old Tibetan nun and political prisoner, was released for good behavior today, just four days prior to Chinese President Jiang Zemins U.S. visit. Students for a Free Tibet welcomes Sangdrols release and calls on China to immediately free all remaining political prisoners in Tibet.
We are overjoyed that Ngawang Sangdrol is finally free. She is a courageous young woman, who has suffered immeasurably for her dedication to Tibetan freedom. Her story speaks volumes about the spirit of resistance that exists among the Tibetan people and the brutality they face as a result of Chinese rule in Tibet, said Lhadon Tethong, Projects Coordinator for Students for a Free Tibet. Ngawang Sangdrol should never have been imprisoned in the first place and she is free only because of pressure from students and campaigners worldwide. China has released her to gain favor with the U.S. in the lead up to Jiangs final meeting with President Bush. However, Jiang should know that as long as China continues to occupy Tibet they will never truly be accepted by the international community.
Ngawang Sangdrol was imprisoned in 1992 at the age 15 for shouting slogans for Tibetan independence during a demonstration in Lhasa, Tibets capital city. Her sentence was extended three times for what Chinese authorities described as "counterrevolutionary crimes in prison." Ngawang Sangdrol had been the longest-serving female political prisoner and was not due to be released until 2011. According to reliable sources, she is resting with her family in Lhasa and is in very bad health as a result of the abuse she endured in prison. If Ngawang Sangdrol so desires, China should allow her to travel outside of Tibet to receive proper medical attention.
Students for a Free Tibet works in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. A chapter-based network of more than 700 schools worldwide, SFT campaigns for Tibetans' fundamental right to political freedom through education, grassroots organizing, and nonviolent direct action.
China Releases Tibetan Nun on Parole AP Online Thursday, October 17, 2002
By TED ANTHONY Associated Press Writer
BEIJING (AP) -- A Tibetan nun imprisoned by Chinese authorities since her mid-teens for her political activities was freed Thursday on good behavior nine years early, a leading human rights activist said -- a release that comes days before China's leader visits the United States. It was at least the seventh release of a Tibetan political prisoner since January. Ngawang Sangdrol, a nun who is either 24 or 25, was released from Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1 and reunited with her family Thursday, according to John Kamm, president of the Duihua Foundation, a human rights organization based in San Francisco. She had nine years remaining on a sentence for "counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda," the foundation said. The release came a year after a prison report reduced her sentence by 18 months, saying she was showing "genuine repentance." "She is believed to be China's longest serving female prisoner convicted of counterrevolution, and her release from prison comes after many years of campaigning by the international human rights community," Kamm said in a statement. He praised U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac for their help in securing the release. "Many ... have shown great concern for this young woman," Kamm said. Last week, during a visit to Beijing, Kamm said he expected China to do what it often does before a key meeting with the United States -- release a prisoner to lubricate the wheels for good bilateral relations. Chinese President Jiang Zemin is due next week in Crawford, Texas, to visit Bush's ranch. "I believe there will be an important human rights gesture prior to Crawford," Kamm said last week after meeting with officials. Kamm's Duihua Foundation has been instrumental in several releases of Chinese political prisoners in recent years, and he is known to have excellent contacts within the Chinese government. The Chinese Foreign Ministry's off-hours number didn't immediately answer calls seeking comment. Ngawang Sangdrol, a resident of Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and a nun at the Garu Nunnery north of the city, was born in 1977, according to Duihua. She was originally convicted in 1992, and by 1998 her sentence had been extended three times for "counterrevolutionary crimes in prison." In 2001, a court cut her sentence by 18 months. Until Thursday, her scheduled release date had been Nov. 3, 2011. In July, ailing Tibetan teacher Tanak Jigme Sangpo, believed to be China's longest-held political prisoner, was released nine years early and flew to exile in the United States. Earlier this year, four "singing nuns," a group of women punished for recording pro-independence songs in prison, were freed. Of the 18 Tibetan prisoners raised by the State Department during the dialogue on human rights held in Washington one year ago, nine have been released from prison during the past year, Kamm said -- three at the end of their terms, and six prior to the completion of their sentences. Kamm says figures given to him by the Chinese government say there are more than 100 prisoners in Tibet serving sentences on charges of "endangering state security." Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.