A Tibetan businessman detained in China’s Sichuan province last month for launching a solitary protest challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas has been freed after being interrogated over slogans he wrote on his protest banner, Tibetan sources said.
Pasang Wangchuk, 37, a businessman and father of three, was taken into custody on Oct. 3 as he protested in the downtown area of the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) county seat in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, calling out for human rights and religious freedom in Tibet, sources said.
“He was released around 5:00 p.m. on Nov. 3,” a Tibetan living in Nepal told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday, citing local sources.
“I could not speak to him directly, but it is confirmed that he has been released,” the source said, adding that his contacts could not say whether Wangchuk had been beaten or tortured during the month he spent in jail—a punishment most detained Tibetan protesters say they undergo.
“It is also unclear why he was freed,” the source continued, speaking on condition of anonymity.
During his solo protest, Wangchuk—who is also known as Ngodru—carried a banner bearing slogans calling for the long life of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and shouted slogans calling for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet, sources had said.
“We have now learned that he also wrote slogans on his banner urging Tibetans to ‘remember our heroic patriots’ and calling for a peaceful dialogue to resolve the question of Tibet,” RFA’s source said on Friday.
“During his detention, he was questioned mainly about these writings on his banner,” he said.
Wangchuk’s release has fueled various speculations.
“Some say that he was released because of ‘improving conditions’ in the area, while others say that he was freed because he is a well-known businessman with good connections,” the source said.
“Others are saying that some of his close business associates paid for his release,” he said.
Tibetans in Kardze prefecture are known for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism and frequently stage protests alone or in groups opposing rule by Beijing.
“The political climate in the region has been deeply oppressive,” the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, an advocacy group, said in an August report.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 133 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Reported by Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.