Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have freed a young Tibetan monk jailed two years ago for staging a public protest challenging China’s rule and a popular singer briefly held for performing a politically sensitive song, Tibetan sources in the region and in exile said.
“Lobsang Tenpa, a monk of Kirti monastery, had been given a two-year term for protesting in Ngaba town and was released on May 5 from a juvenile detention center in Sichuan near [the provincial capital] Chengdu,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“His father and three brothers went to the facility to receive him, and the local Tibetans made arrangements to welcome him home after his two years in prison,” the source said.
No public welcome could be made, though, owing to a strict security clampdown following another local protest on May 2, the source said.
Tenpa, then 19, was detained after protesting In April 2014 in the main town of Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in the Ngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, sources said in earlier reports.
With his head wrapped in a hand-drawn Tibetan national flag, Tenpa had shouted slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama before being taken into custody and beaten, sources said.
Tenpa’s Kirti monastery has been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.
Authorities raided the institution in 2011, taking away hundreds of monks and sending them for “political re-education” while local Tibetans who sought to protect the monks were beaten and detained, sources said.
Banned national anthem
Sichuan authorities meanwhile also released a popular Tibetan singer detained for his performance of the Tibetan national anthem, sources told RFA, adding that the man had been severely beaten while in custody.
Pema Wangchen sang the banned Tibetan song on Feb. 13 but was not detained until after his performance—in which he also wished the Dalai Lama a long life—had circulated widely online, a Tibetan source living in India said.
“Recently, police stopped him in Kardze town” in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, RFA’s source Kardze Choegyal said, citing contacts in the region.
When police discovered he was not in possession of his driver’s license, they took him to a police station where he confessed to having sung the politically sensitive song, Choegyal said.
After learning that Wangchen’s brother, Palden Trinley, was a Kardze monk linked to political protests, "police began to beat him, injuring one of his fingers.”
Trinley had been detained in 2009 and was released last year after serving a seven-year sentence, Choegyal said.
Pema Wangchen had briefly studied in India and later returned to Tibet, Choegyal said.
“He is a resident of Osur village in Kardze town. His father’s names is Pega, and his mother’s name is Khaga.”
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule and calling for the Dalai Lama’s return have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin and Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney and Brooks Boliek.