Fri, Mar 17, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Persecuted Tibetan nun mum after arrival in US

AP , BEIJING

A Tibetan Buddhist nun who spent 15 years in prison on political charges was allowed to leave China and has flown to the US, a US activist announced.

Phuntsog Nyidron was released from prison in 2004, but her movements were restricted and she was refused a passport until recently, said John Kamm, president of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco. The foundation researches Chinese prisons and has helped arrange prisoner releases.

Phuntsog Nyidron's departure from China came ahead of a visit to Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤). But Kamm, who has helped to arrange the release of other prisoners, said he didn't know whether the decision to let her go was connected to Hu's trip.

"The US will view this quite positively, of course," Kamm said on Wednesday by phone from San Francisco. He noted the trip also came during a US-Chinese human rights dialogue and changes to the UN system of human rights monitoring, and said both might have influenced the decision.

After arriving in Washington, Phuntsog Nyidron said Chinese officials told her not to discuss her situation, the US-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia reported.

"Although I was released from prison in 2004, I suffered many hardships, as did my family members. I developed three different ailments," she was quoted as saying. "I was also told by the Chinese authorities not to discuss my situation since my family remain in Tibet."

Phuntsog Nyidron was a nun at the Michungri nunnery when she was arrested at age 22 in 1989 on charges of "counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement" and sentenced to eight years in prison.

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