Prisoner of Conscience
Ngawang Pekar (naw-wan pee-kar) was born in approximately 1960 in the Tibetan town of Toeiung Dechen Dzong. He subsequently entered Drepung Monastery outside of the capital city of Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, to begin practice as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Unconfirmed reports state that he was taught English by an English couple who ran an unofficial language school in Lhasa in 1986 through 1987 and was well-known to foreigners as a guide for the monastery.
Amidst large scale anti-Chinese protests in 1989 in the city of Lhasa, Pekar was arrested by Chinese authorities for putting up pro- independence posters and participating in peaceful demonstrations. For the above actions, he was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. At the time of his arrest he was reportedly arranging to escape to India, as have a great many other Tibetans.
In 1991, there was a report that Ngawang Pekar was among four prisoners at Drapchi Prison (Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No. 1) who witnessed a denial of medical treatment to one of their fellow prisoners. According to a source from Tibet, Pekar pleaded on behalf of the prisoner, Lhakpa Tsering, who was very ill, and as a result Tsering was allowed to stay in the hospital. Unfortunately, Tsering later died from his illness, though the exact cause of his death remains unknown.
Shortly before he was due to be released, Pekar was sentenced to an additional 6 years imprisonment in March of 1996 for allegedly trying to smuggle out a list of other prisoners to international human rights organizations. In addition to the increased sentence, immediately following the discovery of the list Pekar was confined to an iron isolation cell for three months. As this was during the winter, it was very cold, but he was reportedly able to maintain reasonable health.
There has been no further information regarding Ngawang Pekar’s status and/or condition since 1996. Amnesty International considers Pekar to be a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising the universal right to voice his conscience.
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