Chinese security forces have detained 15 Tibetan villagers and banned mass petitioning in a Tibetan county after residents pushed for the release of a local writer detained on “separatism” charges, according to sources.
They were detained for persistently pressing for the release of writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen and his friend Yugyal, who were detained on Oct. 11 and 12 in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
Villagers had submitted a written appeal for the duo’s release after being told that they would not be allowed to assemble in groups of more than five, and that they should present their request in writing to county and local township authorities, RFA’s source said, citing local sources.
“However, no response was given to their written request,” he said.
On Nov. 3, when a government work team arrived in Driru’s Shamchu township to carry out propaganda work, residents again insisted on the release of the two detained men, but work team members ignored their request, the source said.
In frustration, three women—Sarkyi, 49, Tsophen, 47, and Yangkyi, 25—then went to the homes of work team members.
“They demanded clear explanations as to what laws the two detained Tibetans had violated, and complained strongly against the random detention of Tibetans,” he said.
Officials then called police, who took the three women into custody, and at about the same time paramilitary police detained a group of young Tibetans who had gathered near the township office, RFA’s source said.
Sources identified those detained as Tsering, 22, Tsering Phuntsok and Tador, both 21, Kundak, 17, Gabuk, 41, Thubten, 27, Soetra, 25, Tsering Jangchub, 21, Lamsang, 24, Tsewang Lhakyab, 19, Tsering Tenpa, 22, and Jigme Phuntsok, 23.
“They were all taken to the county detention center in Driru, though some may now have been moved other detention centers,” the source said, adding, “Many of them have been subjected to interrogation and beatings.”
Separately, the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) confirmed from local sources that Driru authorities have banned Tibetans from petitioning in large groups, saying that petitioning by more than five people would be considered a “political error.”
“Local Tibetans were ordered to submit their petitions in writing, which they did a number of times, but so far authorities have failed to respond,” TCHRD said.
Chinese police detained the writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen, 27, at around 1:00 a.m. on Oct. 11, with his friend Yugyal, a former police officer, picked up the next day, sources said.
Taken into custody in Driru’s Shamchu township, Gyaltsen was accused of committing ‘separatist’ actions and speaking ‘recklessly’ when school students and Tibetan residents of nearby villages staged hunger strikes against the actions of authorities in Driru, one source said.
“Police searched his residence and took away computers, books, and mobile phones,” he said.
Yugyal, a former Public Security Bureau officer, had resigned in 2012 because of the “political nature” of his job and had then started a small business to support himself and his family, TCHRD said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 122 Tibetans in China have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.