A second Tibetan has been arrested and sent to prison in China’s Sichuan province for his involvement in a social media chat group celebrating last year’s 80th birthday of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, RFA’s Tibetan Service has learned.
Argya Gya, formerly a monk at Kirti monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county and now a layman, was taken into custody on Nov. 18, 2015, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA.
“He is currently being held in a prison in Lunggu [Wenchuan] county,” RFA’s source said.
Gya, who had previously served a three-year term in Sichuan’s Mianyang prison in connection with the self-immolation in 2011 of another Kirti monastery monk, now joins at least one other prisoner in Lunggu, a monk named Lodroe, over their involvement in the online WeChat group.
News of Gya’s arrest was delayed in reaching outside contacts due to communications blocks imposed by Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas.
Hundreds of Tibetans gathered at monasteries in western China’s Qinghai and Gansu provinces last year in defiance of Chinese bans to celebrate the birthday of the Dalai Lama, burning incense and offering prayers in honor of the exiled spiritual leader, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
The celebrations were held despite widespread efforts by officials across Tibetan-populated regions to warn against observances of the politically sensitive event and to block public gatherings that could be linked to it.
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 145 Tibetans living in China have now set themselves ablaze in self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, with most protests featuring calls for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return from India, where he has lived since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.