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Ancient prison under repair for tourism
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-18 07:55

Tibet's largest ancient prison is under repair and expected to be opened to the public in May of next year.

Costing of 500,000 yuan (US$60,241), the project on Langzisha aims to restore the original look of the ancient prison and to help people learn about Tibet's history, local officials said.

The prison is under repair for the second time since the decade-long turmoil of the "cultural revolution" ending in 1976.

Losang Jigme, who is in charge of the project, said on Friday the reconstruction team will repair all walls, the roof of the three-story building, all nine cells of the prison, a court room and the prison control room.

Situated in Bargor Street of Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Re-gion, Langzisha is a typical example of Tibetan architecture covering an area of 720 square metres.

It was built by the Fifth Dalai Lama in the middle of the 17th century. It was originally meant to be the government headquarters of Lhasa, but was later turned into a prison.

Even in the first half of the 20th century, Tibet remained a society of theocractic feudal serfdom, one even darker and more backward than medieval Europe.

The ecclesiastical and secular serf owners, though accounting for less than 5 per cent of the population of Tibet, controlled the personal freedom of the serfs and slaves who made up more than 95 per cent of the population.

The prison stored the tools for savage punishments, including the gouging out of eyes, cutting off of ears, hands and feet, pulling out of tendons and the skinning of people.

Due to long years of disrepair and humidity damage, some walls of the former prison are on the verge of collapse, said Losang.

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