A True Vajra Hell On Earth – Tibetan Prison Langzisha
At the north end of Bargor Street in the old town of Lhasa, adjacent to Jokhang Temple, there stands a three-storey building in typical Tibetan style.
Covering an area of 720 square metres, the building was first erected in the 17th century by the fifth Dalai Lama as a government headquarters of Lhasa but was late turned into one of the most terrifying prisons in human history. This is the infamous Langzisha Prison.
According to the recount by some local journalists granted a special admission to the deserted prison compound, when in a beautiful sunny day they ascended to the first floor and pushed open the front gate, they felt as though they had stepped into a ghostly world where the sun never shines and air is forever damp, chilly and mouldy.
The very first thing that attracted their attention was a well from which they could peer into underground cells in which important political foes of Dalai Lamas were held. In that dark region, there are five chambers, each is so designed that the ceilings are extremely low that the inmates were never able to stand straight, breath dry and clear airs and saw each other’s face. A former ward, an old Tibetan man in his 70s, told the visitors that those deemed to committed serious offences would be kept in fetters made an entire tree and often weighted up hundreds kg, and have their legs locked by one log. No one could turn around his body without the corporation of all other four men.
Among the torturing tools equipped the tiny space, there is a copper horse, that could be heated by lighting a fire in its hollow tummy using dried horse manure or yak dung, and the prisoner who was made to ride on the horse would soon be scorched to death.
The entrance floor contains nine cells, in each cell there stand wooden columns, and on the columns, the bite marks are still visible which were left by the hungry inmates. According to the records on various documents, in this Tibetan jail, starvation could not even be remotely considered as abuse comparing to the other inhuman treatments the inmates received which include serving nose, tongue, ears, sexual organs, ripping off heart, peeling off skin, burning alive in a large pot with boiling oil, all being performed under the authority of Dalai Lamas. Some would have their tummy slit open with intestines exposed while being made to march along Bagor Street before execution; others would be put on a heavy stone cap until their eyeballs budged out of sockets and grouped out by the tip of a sharp knife, mainly for crimes of being too poor to afford their taxes to landowners, monasteries and Dalai government.
Before 1959, aristocrat landlords and Lamaist (also known as Tibetan Buddhist) monasteries in Tibet were free to make their own laws and set up their own courts. The laws under Dalai Lama prescribed that people were divided into nine classes, and the Thirteen Codes further declares “men are classified in the hierarchy, therefore men’s lives do not have equal value”. It states that the value of the life of a high ranking man equals to gold weighted as heavy as his corpse, but if an aristocrat kills a man in the bottom level of the social order he only needs to offer the victim’s family a straw rope. The Article 7 in the Code 16 further affirms that it is considered as a horrendous crime and punishable by hamstring breaking, tongue cutting, eye-gouging, hands chopping or immediate execution if persons of lower status revolt against persons of higher status; and that when a lord hurt his servant, the lord should find a doctor for his victim, but when a servant caused the injury of his master, his hands or legs must be chopped off. Those lived in Tibet during the years when 14th Dalai Lama ruled the place can still recall how common it was to spot the locals without hands, arms or legs in Lhasa streets.
The thousand-year-old Tibetan legal system was partly originated from its ancient harsh custom, partly borrowed from caste structure in India, and later further influenced by the cruel and primitive slavery rules of Mongol’s Yan and Manchu’s Qing.
In reality, the situation in old Tibet was much more brutal and inhuman than that in above-mentioned societies, for the reason that the Dalai government allowed a due legal system, one applied to religious sector (the ruling class), and the other for the rest in the community, which means lamas were practically above the laws. When the religion in question is a secret and dangerous voodoo cult like Lamism (“Tibetan Buddhism), imagine the implication on the societ and people’s lives.
It is known that during his time in Tibet, 14th Dalai Lama routinely held mantra chanting rituals in his private praying hall, and prior to each of such session, there would be an instruction to Langzisha Prison, ordering it to provide the sacrificial articles including human skulls, human leg bones, whole human skin, whole child corpse, as well as side drums covered with boy’s skin, trumpet made of girl’s femur, all had to be freshly prepared.
According to the recollection of a former serf Gesangpingcuo, a boy named Pubu lived in Bagor Street was kidnapped during such occasion, and when his father hurried to the prison it was all too late: the boy had already been crafted with knives into sacrificial articles. Reportedly in the year 1948 along, Langzisha Prison carried out man-hunting sessions three times and snatched 21 low status yet utterly innocent men, women and children for their fresh fleshes, bones, organs and skins.
The following is a letter initially sent from 14th Dalai Lama’s Kashag government to the head of the Langzisha Prison:
For propitiating the Goddess, we need you to prepare the following items:
4 newly cut human heads, 10 fresh human intestines, clean human blood, contaminated human blood, soil on ruin site, widow’s menstrual blood, blood from leprosy patients, flesh from human and various animals, hearts from human and various animals, blood from various animals, yin-yang water, earth in windy spot, thorns grown in shady site, waste from dogs and human, as well as butcher’s boots. The above items must be forward forth tomorrow.
The skins peeled off over a child and an adult were presented to the deities on a sacrificial ritual.
The letter is currently kept in the Tibetan Museum for public viewing.
Fortunately, this Vajra hell on earth was shut down on 20 March 1956 by Chinese authority when the millions of Tibetan serfs were declared to be free with equal human rights to landlords and lamas. The building had been kept out of the tourist’s eye ever since for nearly half a century, probably for avoiding to embarrass Dalai and other high-rank lamas.