Footage of Runggye Adak, a Tibetan nomad serving an eight-year prison sentence for expressing Tibetans' loyalty to the Dalai Lama in front of an audience of thousands, is made public this week by the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) to mark the third anniversary of the incident. The footage, subtitled in English, shows an extract of Runggye Adak's bold on-stage statement at the traditional Lithang Horse Festival in eastern Tibet on 1 August 2007, in the moments after he seized the microphone to speak and before he was arrested and imprisoned.
Three years ago this week Runggye Adak, a 56 year-old Tibetan nomad took the microphone at a major horse festival and spoke to a crowd of thousands who had gathered for the opening ceremony. He spoke for several minutes before he was detained by armed police who made their way to the stage.
Sources who witnessed the incident report that Runggye Adak also called for the Dalai Lama to return home to Tibet. Immediately after his detention, local Tibetans and others in the area to attend the summer horse festival crowded into the courtyard of the police station to protest his detention before being dispersed by police. Several days afterwards, Tibetans again gathered, this time outside the town, and were dispersed by riot police using tear-gas and firing guns into the air.
An official Chinese statement, dated August 3, 2007, reported that Runggye Adak had been detained "for inciting separation of nationalities", saying: "The villager named Runggye Adak went to a platform at about 10:00 am Wednesday before the opening ceremony in Litang county, and shouted out words of "Tibetan independence" and stopped vehicles to disrupt public order, according to the sources. The villager was detained by police for being suspected of breaching the law.... The police sources said they would handle the case of Runggye Adak, whose words and deeds were meant to separate the country and harm national unity and has disrupted public order, according to law." (Xinhua, August 3, 2007)
According the International Tibet Support Network (ITSN), a coalition of 168 Tibet support groups, Runggye Adak's family members have only met him once in the past three years. The meeting occurred after 50 people filed a request to local Chinese officials. The expressions of support among Tibetans for Runggye Adak's statement at the horse festival led to the launch of an intense "patriotic education" campaign in Lithang and throughout Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in Sichuan province. ICT and ITSN called on China to uphold its obligations under international law regarding freedom of belief and expression.
Information for this report was provided by ICT