Runggye Adak delivering an impromptu speech in front of thousands of Tibetans and Chinese officials at a public gathering calling for the return on the Dalai Lama on August 1, 2007.
DHARAMSHALA, August 3: Five years after Runggye Adak, a Tibetan nomad, was arrested for giving an impassioned speech calling for the Dalai Lama’s return in front of thousands of Tibetans, serious concerns have been raised over his treatment by Chinese prison guards.
Atruk Tseten, a close relative of Runggye Adak and a member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile told Phayul that Chinese prison guards at the Miyang prison, have been particularly severe on Runggye Adak.
“As a result of the severe beatings that he received earlier on, Runggye Adak ‘s hearing is impaired and is suffering from a damaged eye,” Tseten said. “He has also complained of acute leg pain.”
The Member of Parliament added that Runggye Adak is being kept in a solitary cell and the prison guards have been particularly harsh on him.
On August 1, 2007, Runggye Adak, 50, took to the stage at the Lithang horse racing festival and made a bold, impromptu speech in front of Chinese officials and thousands of Tibetans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and release of the XIth Panchen Lama Gendhun Choekyi Nyima and Tulku Tenzin Delek.
Less than a minute into his speech
, he was arrested and was later sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of "inciting to split the country" and for "severely disrupting public order."
Three others, Adak Lopoe, a respected senior monk from Lithang monastery, was sentenced to 10 years for "colluding with foreign separatist force to split the country," Tibet singer, Kunkhyen was sentenced to nine years, and Jarib Lothok received a three-year sentence for helping to send photos abroad.
In his speech, Runggye Adak asks, “Do you know what has happened to us?”
“Although we can move our bodies, we cannot express what is in our hearts.”
He then challenges Chinese propaganda and calls for the return of the exile Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama.
"These days there are those who say we don't need the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama is the one that we six million Tibetans truly [need]...”
Tenzin Jigme, international coordinator of the International Tibet Network, noted that Runggye Adak’s speech “resonated deeply with ordinary Tibetans while rattling the Chinese official nerves at the same time.”
“Runggye Adak was not a political activist. He was not an educated leader. He was an ordinary Tibetan speaking his mind because there was too much policy and propaganda against Tibetan people’s real wishes,” Jigme said.
“Tibetans want His Holiness the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. This desire is born from within and is closely intertwined with Tibetan people’s spiritual, cultural and political wishes.”
Since 2009, there have been 45 known cases of self-immolations by Tibetans demanding the return of the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.