Popular Tibetan singer Tashi Dhondup has been released from jail after serving most of a 15-month sentence for recording songs calling for Tibetan independence, according to a close relative in Tibet.
Tashi Dhondup, an ethnic Mongol, was freed from a Chinese jail in the Qinghai provincial capital of Xining early Tuesday, the relative said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“He arrived safely at his hometown in Yulgan [in Chinese, Henan] county on the same day at around 7:00 p.m.,” the relative said. “On the way, he passed through Tsekhog [in Chinese, Zeku] county, where he was well received by the locals with scarves and greetings.”
“His family, fans, and friends gave him a warm welcome on his arrival at his home county in Malho prefecture,” the man said.
The population of the Malho [in Chinese, Huangnan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai is majority Tibetan, together with a large number of Mongolians and a smaller number of Han Chinese.
“So far, the local police have not imposed restrictions on the local Tibetans and Mongolians for welcoming the popular singer following his more than a year in detention,” the relative said.
Separately, a source inside Tibet described Tashi Dhondup as “a popular singer in the Amdo region of Tibet.”
“He was detained on Dec. 3, 2009, for producing CDs titled ‘58’ and ‘Torture Without Trace’ and was sentenced in 2009 to 15 months at hard labor,” the source said.
A judicial document smuggled out of China in early 2010, and reported in March by RFA, described proceedings in the case, which was handled without a formal court trial by the Yulgan County Re-Education Through Labor Committee.
Tashi Dhondup, 30, had “violated laws” by singing songs in support of Tibetan independence and exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the committee wrote in it its decision.
According to the document, Tashi Dhondup was first detained and interrogated on April 16 and 19, 2009, by Yulgan county police and was warned not to sing a song titled “58.”
The song evoked the failed 1958-59 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule during which thousands of Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, fled across the border to India.
The singer was detained again in Xining after thousands of copies of his CD “Torture Without Trace” began to appear in market stalls in the region.
“He and some other associates copied about 3,000 CDs and distributed them in 11 counties in [the Chinese provinces of] Qinghai, Sichuan, and Gansu,” according to the document.
“These songs … contained serious provocative themes,” the Re-Education Through Labor Committee wrote.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.