Police in western China’s Sichuan province have detained two young Tibetans, one a student and the other a monk, apparently on suspicion of involvement in activities opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas, sources said.
The detentions in restive Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture follow the taking into custody of another monk in Ngaba for launching a solitary protest against Chinese rule on the main street of the county center on Dec. 26.
Mewu Soepa, a 21-year-old student and resident of Ngaba county's Meruma township, was detained at about 4:00 p.m. local time on Dec. 27 while traveling from Meruma to the Ngaba county center, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“He was taken into custody by a combined force of police and public security bureau officers, and was taken away with all his belongings,” Kungam, a former executive member of the India-based Gu-Chu-Sum Former Political Prisoners Association, said, citing local contacts.
“Soepa’s friends and others familiar with him suspect that he was targeted by the Chinese because of his blogging on [politically sensitive] issues like self-immolations, freedom, and the Tibetan struggle," Kungam said.
"He had also spread information written by others on these topics to the public."
'Raise Your Hands'
Writings recently posted on Soepa’s blog include an article titled “Raise Your Hands For Freedom” and a poem, “The Martyr,” dedicated to a Tibetan woman named Tsepe, also from Meruma township, who set herself ablaze and died on Dec. 22 to protest Chinese rule, Kungam added.
Soepa, a resident of Meruma’s Unit No. 3, was formerly a monk and now studies literature at the Northwest University for Nationalities in Lanzhou in neighboring Gansu province, Kungam said.
His father’s name is Gonkho and mother’s name is Phalko, he said.
“His family is poor, and during school vacations he would run a DVD stall in Meruma that sold Tibetan videos in order to help pay his school fees,” Kungam said.
During school breaks Soepa and like-minded friends would sometimes organize public discussions on themes like, “We, who have no freedom of speech,” he added.
“This summer, he broke his leg in a motorbike accident,” Kungam said.
“He has not recovered fully and still cannot walk well without the support of a crutch,” he said.
Another monk held
Chinese police meanwhile also detained a Tibetan monk in Ngaba’s Kirti monastery, a monk living in exile said, citing local contacts.
Lobsang Lungrik, 20, and a resident of Meruma township’s Unit No. 5, “was taken into custody at night on Dec. 26 and was forcibly taken away by police,” Kanyak Tsering told RFA in an email.
“The reason for his detention and his present whereabouts remain unknown,” Tsering said.
Lungrik’s detention came on the same day that another Kirti monk, Lobsang Trinley, 21, was taken into custody in Ngaba’s county seat for protesting Chinese rule.
“[Trinley] was carrying a big portrait of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama in his hands and shouting slogans calling for long life for the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet,” a local source told RFA.
“He was severely beaten as the police whisked him away,” the source said.
Kirti monastery has been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.
Authorities raided the institution in 2011, taking away hundreds of monks and sending them for “political re-education” while local Tibetans who sought to protect the monks were beaten and detained, sources said in earlier reports.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 136 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.