Nyima originally from in Yul-Nga Village, Tsang Shar Township, Phenpo
County, Tibetan Autonomous Region “TAR” is a nun at Phenpo Podo
Nunnery. After completing five years of imprisonment in Drapchi Prison
she was released in March 1999. She spent the following three years attempting
to recover from the inhuman torture and maltreatment that she
had undergone. She was hospitalized for many months until the medical
costs became too high for her family to bear, and she had to recover at
For Nyima and her friends, life outside the prison for political prisoners
was too onerous to tolerate as they were under constant surveillance of the
public security bureau . In addition to their own suffering, all of
their friends and relatives became targets for scrutiny and intimidation.
With no other choice, on 9 March 2004 Nyima began her harrowing journey
into exile leaving friends and family behind. Nyima joined a small
group of fellow Tibetans and trekked over the Himalayas to Nepal, moving
only at night so as not to be seen by chinese forces. The journey took
nearly one month. On 20 April 2004 Nyima reached Dharamsala the seat
of exile Tibetan government.
Nyima testified to TCHRD on numerous torture and inhuman treatment
she and her friends had suffered while in the detention center and in prison.
Following is the short transcript of her testimony:
“In September 1993, my friends and I were expelled from the nunnery
following local authorities’ directive that bans all nuns under the age of
18 from staying and studying at the nunnery. In order to voice our opinion,
I along with two of my friends decided to undertake an activity that
is to change the course of our lives forever. On 19 March 1994 we clandestinely
left for Lhasa to protest against religious oppression. Upon arriving
in Lhasa on the morning of 21 March, we headed to busy Barkhor
market and shouted slogans for fifteen minutes before four officers shoved
leather gloves into our mouths and immediately arrested us. We were first
detained in the police station, and then forced into a van that transported
us to Gutsa Detention Center. On the way to Gutsa we were
In order to gain information about any outside instigators involved in
our actions, the officials attempted to force me to confess to my crime and
to accept the ‘mistakes’ I had committed. During each interrogation session,
I refused to answer their questions and would not admit to having
committed a crime. It was my belief that the chinese had committed the
crime and had infringed upon my individual human rights. I was not
going to admit to anything, even at the cost of my life. If I did so, they
would have won. For this, I underwent extensive torture.
Each day of interrogation the same questions were asked over and over
again, and each day I refused to comply. chinese officials used whatever
tools were available to them- usually chairs, belts, boots and fists. As the
interrogation sessions continued, the torture became worse. I was repeatedly
burned with lit cigarettes, had boiling water poured over my body,
and my mouth prodded with wooden sticks. I still refused to confess to
having committed any crime. After six months of daily interrogation and
torture, I was formally charged and convicted. I never received access to
legal representation and a trial of any kind. For my ‘crime,’ I received a
five-year prison sentence with three years deprivation of political rights.
My friends and I continued to be detained at Gutsa Detention Center
for one year and five months. In August 1995, we were transferred to
Drapchi Prison. On reaching Drapchi Prison, we were made to study
prison rules and regulation. After a week, I was supposed to have memorized
the entire text to recite before prison officials.
I did not read nor memorized the text, for I knew that I had not committed
any crime. As a result, I was forced to stand outside and stare at the
sun for hours on end without moving. Often, guards placed a water bowl
on my head and newspapers between my knees and under my arms to
make sure that I did not move. If any of the objects fell to the ground, I
was beaten. Staring at the sun for prolonged hours causes one to get dizzy,
vomit and to lose consciousness. Each time this happened I would be
beaten. This form of torture continued for two months.
Following two months of staring at the sun, I and 63 other prisoners were
forced to learn military exercises and drills, where we often had to march
in perfect unison in a half-starved state. Each time someone did not
complete the drill perfectly, the individual was beaten. This continued
for four months.
I once again refused to learn self-incriminating phrases that I accept my
mistakes and would work to reform my mind. Instead I repeated human
rights and pro-independence slogans. For this act of total defiance, all
visiting privileges from my family were cut off, and four guards systematically
beat me. The guards referred to the session as ‘playing soccer,’ and
I was the soccer ball. The guards stood in a square formation and she had
to walk up to each guard so they could kick her to the ground.
A particular brutal torture tactic I underwent was when I and several
other prisoners were forced to stand barefoot on ice for an entire day
After several hours of excruciating pain, our bodies went completely numb.
During this time a female prison guard came in wearing
high heels and proceeded to stomp on the frozen feet of each woman.
In the late afternoon we were forced to pull our feet off the ice, ripping the
soles from our feet and leaving the ice soaked in blood. We were then
made stand in the sun, causing our nerves to thaw and subjecting our
bodies once again to extreme pain.
On the third day of Tibetan New Year in 1997, the two cellblocks of
female prisoners consisting of both criminal and political were brought
into the courtyard of Drapchi Prison to sing songs in praise of Mao Zedong
and the communist party. As one female criminal inmate began to sing
the song, Jamdron and I stood up and began singing a song in praise of
the Dalai Lama and a free Tibet. The Prison guards immediately grabbed
us and dragged us into the closest office.
We continued to sing defiantly until we were beaten into submission.
At that time, all of the political prisoners in the courtyard refused to
stand until we were released. Unfortunately,a unit of officers
immediately arrived to quell the women’s protest in the courtyard.
We were then hit with an electric baton and rendered unconscious.
We awoke when the guards splashed water on our faces, only to
beat us again.
This incident landed us in solitary confinement for over one year. We
were kept in a small, dark cell and fed one dumpling and a bowl of water
each day, and given no clothing or blankets to shield from the incredibly
cold Tibetan winter.
After one year of solitary confinement, I was moved into a cell with
Jamdron for eight more months. We could not recognize each other at
first sight as we had both terribly emaciated during our confinement.
After eight months we were returned to cells with the rest of the political
prisoners. Three months later in March 1999, after five years of imprisonment,
I was released from Drapchi Prison.”