Recently Freed Tibetan Detained For Carrying Leaflets Calling For Dalai Lama’s Return

2015-10-12
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Samdrub Gyatso in an undated photo, with Drapchi prison entrance in background.
Samdrub Gyatso in an undated photo, with Drapchi prison entrance in background.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Authorities in China have taken into custody a Tibetan for violating the terms of his release from prison and carrying leaflets in northwest China’s Qinghai province, calling for the return of the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources said.

Samdrub Gyatso, believed to be in his early 30s, had finished serving a five-year sentence in May for launching a solitary protest in front of the Jokhang temple in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa, sources said.

Gyatso was arrested in early May 2010 after wrapping himself in a Tibetan flag and calling out for the return of the Dalai Lama, the release of the Panchen Lama, and the resettlement of Tibetans expelled from the Kyegudo (in Chinese, Yushu) area of Qinghai province following a devastating earthquake, a Tibetan in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

After he served a five-year sentence in Lhasa’s Drapchi prison, authorities escorted Gyatso to his hometown Serthang in Dashi (Haiyan) county, Tsojang (Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture), in Qinghai.

“He was instructed not to travel outside the county premises,” said one of Gyatso’s relatives.

Gyatso was taken into custody again in early September when traveling from eastern to western Qinghai with the politically sensitive leaflets, a Tibetan source from Tibet told RFA.

“He was being followed and watched even after his release,” he said.

Gyatso now suffers from kidney disease and requires medication on a regular basis, the source said.

Authorities are holding Gyatso in the Dashi county jail, said one of his relatives.

“No one is allowed to see or visit him,” he said.

Gyatso had been detained briefly before in 2009 when he returned to Tibet after spending two years in India and had several books written by the Dalai Lama in his possession.

Authorities jailed him for six months in Lhasa, after which he was held for three days in Haiyan county and charged a 10,000-yuan fine (U.S. $1,581), the Tibetan in exile said.

Upon his release, Gyatso was forced to promise not to leave the area, he said.

Chinese police frequently investigate and arrest Tibetans deemed to be supporters of the India-based Dalai Lama, whom Beijing considers a dangerous separatist bent on “splitting” Tibet from Chinese control.

Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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