Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province have detained two Tibetans in the latest roundup connected to a petition over confiscated land, according to sources.
Rinchen Dorje, 63, and Magyuk, 56, were summoned by authorities to Dzoege (in Chinese, Ruo’ergai) county center in Sichuan’s Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture around noon on Wednesday for interrogation and then taken into custody, a local Tibetan source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“The two were among those who originally presented a written appeal to the county and prefecture authorities for the resolution of a land dispute,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A second Tibetan source from the region told RFA that authorities later contacted their relatives to inform them of the detentions.
“[The authorities] also informed their families that they are being held in Marthang (Hongyuan) county, and that clothing should be provided for them,” the source said.
Sources recently told RFA that authorities had taken at least 12 residents of Dzoege’s Thangkor town into custody last month who had briefly reoccupied land taken from them five years ago for a government development project that was never completed.
They said that five—Tsering Kyab, Tsering Tashi, Patra, Dobe, and Tabe—were set free on Oct. 2, while five deemed to be protest organizers—Jigje Kyab, Tsepak, Phurko (or Phurgur), Sonam Gyatso, and Shetruk—remained in custody.
On Wednesday, a third Tibetan source told RFA that three of the five who remained in custody had since been released.
“Jigje Kyab and Phurgur are still in detention … so at present there are [at least] four Tibetans still being held, including the two detained on Wednesday,” the source said.
Jigje Kyab, 39, was reported earlier as having gone missing at the time the others were detained, with his sister Tsokyi reportedly being beaten in detention and then released.
In April, Jigje Kyab, also known as Jigme Kyab, went into hiding after a Thangkor official and local government employees visited his home, and said via video at the time that he had “evaded capture” and was in a safe place.
Entrusted by community members with documents supporting Tibetan claims to the confiscated property, Kyab said he had gone into hiding so that he could present the community’s case to higher provincial authorities.
Kyab had also played a role in organizing a Jan. 28 protest by 20 Thangkor-area Tibetans in the Sichuan provincial capital, Chengdu, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
In that incident, authorities quickly broke up the protest and detained 11 Tibetans, later releasing all but two, after the group petitioned in front of government buildings during a meeting of the Sichuan Provincial People’s Congress for the return of their land.
According to sources, the occupation of land in Thangkor was “not related to a specific Chinese policy … but was the work of local authorities who had bullied the Tibetan residents for their personal gain.”
The requisitioning of rural land for lucrative property deals by cash-hungry local governments triggers thousands of “mass incidents” across China every year.
Many result in violent suppression, the detention of the main organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government’s wishes.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.