Police Detain Tibetan Singer

The popular singer is the latest to be picked up for promoting Tibetan national identity.
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A screengrab from a YouTube video of Amchok Phuljung, who was detained in August 2012.
A screengrab from a YouTube video of Amchok Phuljung, who was detained in August 2012.

Authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province have detained a handicapped Tibetan singer, accusing him of recording songs praising exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and highlighting the hardships of life under Beijing’s rule, a Tibetan source said.

He is the latest target of Chinese authorities who have been rounding up Tibetan performing artists known to be effective in mobilizing support for political change in Tibetan-populated areas.  

Amchok Phuljung was taken into custody on Aug. 3 at around 4:00 p.m. in Barkham county in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a resident of the area told RFA, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He had been hiding in the hills to escape the police for about two to three months,” the source said.

“Three monks from the Golog region who wrote the lyrics to some of Phuljung’s songs have also been hiding in the hills for over a month and are now facing acute shortages of food,” he added.

Among the 13 songs released in May on Phuljung’s fifth DVD, titled “Our Heavy Responsibility,” are songs praising the Dalai Lama and Tibet’s exile prime minister Lobsang Sangay, an exile-based friend of the singer said, speaking in an earlier interview.

The Dalai Lama sits “on a golden throne,” and Lobsang Sangay, “a leader of Tibetans,” sits “on a silver throne,” the songs say.

Chinese authorities regularly revile the Dalai Lama and Lobsang Sangay as dangerous separatists, and harshly punish expressions of support for both men by Tibetans living under Beijing’s rule.

In another song, Phuljung describes the Tibetan people as a “kind and just race” and urges them to resist China’s domination by speaking “only pure Tibetan” and by “uniting and working together.”

Scores jailed

China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national and cultural identity  since widespread protests swept Tibet and the Tibetan-populated provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu in 2008.

On July 29, another popular Tibetan singer was detained by Chinese authorities, apparently because of politically sensitive lyrics in his songs, according to a family member.

Choksal, a native of Driru county in the Tibet Autonomous Region, was taken into custody in the Qinghai provincial capital Xining by Chinese police, who told him he was wanted by authorities in Driru and in Lhasa, the singer’s cousin said, speaking from India.

“The Tibetan public liked him because he sang songs about the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, but the Chinese started watching his every move,” his cousin said.

“Chinese security personnel banned him from singing in public and confiscated his albums from Tibetan stores in Lhasa and Driru.”

Reported by Pema Ngodup and Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Benpa Topgyal. Written in English by Richard Finney.





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