Tibetan freedom fighter Palden Gyatso passes away

Palden Gyatso shows his ink-marked thumb, as he leaves after casting his vote to elect members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and Sikyong, the political leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, in McLeod Ganj, India, on 20 March 2016.

Palden Gyatso shows his ink-marked thumb, as he leaves after casting his vote to elect members of the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and Sikyong, the political leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, in McLeod Ganj, India, on 20 March 2016. File photo/Tibet Sun/Lobsang Wangyal

By Lobsang Wangyal

McLEOD GANJ, India, 30 November 2018

Renowned Tibetan freedom fighter Palden Gyatso passed away today morning after a prolonged illness. He was 85.

He died at Delek Hospital in McLeod Ganj, surrounded by monks from Kirti Monastery, which has been looking after him for the past few years.

Speaking to Tibet Sun, Kirti Monastery spokesman Losang Yeshe said that Gyatso had been suffering from a liver ailment for many months. He had been taken to some of the best hospitals in Delhi and New York City.

He had an audience with the Dalai Lama about two months ago.

In the last couple of months, he refused attempts by monks at the Monastery to take him to hospital in Delhi, saying he wanted to be at the monastery.

Palden Gyatso was born in a village named Panam at the Nyangchu River between Gyantse and Shigatse in Tibet in 1933. At age ten he was enrolled at Gadong Monastery as a novice monk. He became a fully ordained monk when he was 18 — just as Tibet was in the midst of political upheaval due to Communist China’s invasion of Tibet. Later he studied in Drepung Monastery which is close to Lhasa.

After the 1959 Tibetan uprising, Palden Gyatso was arrested by Chinese officials for protesting against the Chinese invasion. He spent 33 years in Chinese prisons and labour camps, where he was extensively tortured leading to irreversible physical damage.

He fled to India after his release in 1992, and lived in McLeod Ganj, the exile base of the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration.

He is the subject of the 2008 film Fire Under the Snow, adapted from the book of the same name written and translated by Tsering Shakya.

He remained active in the Tibetan freedom struggle up until his last breath. Even at an advanced age, he travelled the world raising his voice in various platforms for a free Tibet.


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