(Phuntso Wangye, former Tibetan Communist leader, poses for a picture at his home in Beijing, in this undated image made available on March 31, 2014. REUTERS/New Century Press, Hong Kong)

Phuntso Wangye, a veteran Tibetan Communist leader who became an outspoken critic of Beijing’s hardline policies towards the Himalayan region, died on Sunday, his son said. He was 91.

“He left this morning,” Phuntso’s son, Phunkham, told Reuters by telephone. “Before his death, he was a Communist Party member. After his death, we have invited lamas to pray (for his soul) according to traditional Tibetan culture.”

Phuntso, who had been in hospital in Beijing since July, had recently developed lung problems.

Born in 1922 in the Tibetan county of Batang, now part of China’s province of Sichuan, Phuntso founded the Tibetan Communist Party and launched a series of guerrilla uprisings against Nationalist Chinese rule until joining forces with the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.