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    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Bad China

    Two former Tibetan political prisoners who were part of a group known as the "singing nuns" have left the mountainous Chinese region and gone into exile in India, an advocacy group said on Wednesday.


    Rigzin Choekyi, who served 12 years in prison and Lhundrub Zangmo, who served nine years, left overland and travelled through Nepal before reaching India, where Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, leads a government in exile.

    "Both Rigzin Choekyi and Lhundrub Zangmo now wish to receive medical treatment due to concerns for their health following torture in prison," the International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement.

    China, which considers the Dalai Lama a traitor who is trying to split Tibet from China, said the songs spread "counter-revolutionary propaganda" that incited independence.

    Kate Saunders, of the International Campaign for Tibet, said political prisoners faced restrictions even after they were released, adding that was what prompted the singing nuns to leave.

    "Tibetans when they're released from prison really don't experience freedom. They are under constant suspicion from the authorities, they're under constant surveillance," she said. The nuns were also unable to return to their nunneries.

    Phuntsog Nyidron, who was the last of the singing nuns freed when she was released in 2004, was allowed to leave China in March to seek medical treatment in the United States.

    She had been barred from re-entering her nunnery, speaking with the press or meeting freely with foreigners.


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