A popular Tibetan businessman and supporter of traditional Tibetan culture is believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities after his home was demolished by officials in China’s northwestern Qinghai province, according to Tibetan sources.
Nangchen Tashi has been missing for about a week, but sources said he is believed to have been picked up by the authorities. He was briefly held and tortured by Chinese authorities in 2010, the sources said.
Tashi, 47, was described as a “strong advocate of the preservation of Tibetan culture, religion, and language” by a source in his home county of Nangchen in Qinghai’s Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) prefecture.
“He was also very generous in helping poorer people in the Tibetan community and in providing funds for Tibetans who want to study and get ahead in their lives,” the source told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.
On Sept. 12, a group of men appeared at the door of Tashi’s house around midnight and said they had come to demolish the structure, the source said.
Tashi was not present at the time, the source said, indicating that he may have been taken into custody earlier.
“The family members present in the house protested and challenged the intruders,” the source said, adding that Tashi’s wife Boede, his sons Sherab Dorje and Sonam Topgyal, and his daughter Yangdzom were then detained.
“After taking them away, the officials brought in bulldozers and tore the house and a hotel owned by Tashi down to the ground.”
Wanted for development
The land was wanted by Chinese officials for road development, the source said.
“Tashi himself has disappeared, and no information is available about his present location,” he said.
Speaking separately, a second local source confirmed the account, saying, “It is true that Nangchen Tashi’s family property was raided.”
About seven years ago, Tashi purchased a large parcel of land for about 3 million yuan [U.S. $475,470] at a crossroads in Yulshul town where he built his home, a hotel, and restaurants, the source said, adding that he had “many Tibetan and Chinese tenants.”
“During the 2010 earthquake in Yulshul, his buildings remained intact, but the Chinese authorities ordered him to hand over his land for the construction of a road through the area.”
“He agreed to hand over a part of his land close to the road, with the understanding that the rest of his land would be left untouched,” the source said.
“He was also paid compensation of about 30,000 yuan [U.S. $4,754].”
Tashi disappeared for about three months at the time of the Yulshul earthquake, she said.
“Later, it was learned that he had been taken to Chamdo and was severely tortured. He was accused of inciting others to take actions against the authorities.”
Reported by Chakmo Tso and Guru Choegyi for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.