Annie Lennox took the stage of the Festival Mundial to voice her support for Amnesty International's campaign to end the imprisonment of Tibetan artist Ngawang Choepel by the Chinese authorities.
First of all I'd like to say that I respect you all so very much for being out here in the rain today. It's fantastic; I give you my respect. I've come here today on behalf of Amnesty International. To tell you about a young Tibetan man whose name is Ngawang Choepel, there is a picture of him behind me here, who is a thirty-five year old musician and ethnomusicologist who went back to Tibet six years ago to record traditional folksongs and dances of his culture for future generations. Unfortunately he was arrested by the Chinese authorities and charged with spying. His sentence was eighteen years imprisonment. Last August his mother was given permission to visit him for the first time. She said that he looked frail and weak, just skin and bones. His health had suffered badly; he has bronchitis and hepatitis as much as other medical complications. These illnesses are common among Tibetan prisoners. Kidney- and liver problems are common too because the prisoners are deliberately kicked and beaten where their most sensitive organs are located. Torture takes place in many forms, not only kickings and beatings but electrical shotguns are commonly used. Prisoners work long hours at backbreaking tasks and their foot is poor quality and the prisons are absolutely filthy. Since 1998 at least thirteen Tibetans prisoners have died from torture. The Chinese authorities deny this and refuse to carry out investigations into their deaths. Ngawang Choepel is an innocent man who should not be in prison and who should not be tortured. I am appealing to you today to join Amnesty International's campaign to end torture and to join us in the campaign for the immediate release of Ngawang Choepel from prison in Tibet."