KATHMANDU—Chinese authorities in a Tibetan region of northwest Gansu province have arrested a monk, possibly for helping local people listen to Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasts, local residents said.
"Jamyang Gyatso, a monk at Bora monastery in Amdo Labrang [in Chinese, Xiahe] was taken away on the evening of Jan. 8 by Chinese security officials," a resident of Labrang told RFA's Tibetan service.
"On the night Jan. 8 he was told that somebody wanted to see him outside. When he went out, he never came back that night," the source said.
A member of the Bora monastery said officials at the monastery later discovered police had turned over Jamyang Gyatso's room.
Local people have no idea about the reason for the detention of Jamyang Gyatso. However, some people said it might be because he was blamed for some copies of a poetry book written by Hortsang Jigme, and his helping others to receive the programs of Radio Free Asia.
"We found out later that his room was completely searched, and that they had taken a bag full of religious scriptures and CDs and so on," the Bora source said.
The Labrang resident said Jamyang Gyatso was taken away by plainclothes officers.
"Some local residents recognized them as local police dressed in plain clothes. Nobody knows where he was taken, and we are worried," he added.
Jamyang Gyatso, 27, wasn't known for political activism and worked quietly as a custodian of the forests in front of the Bora monastery, residents said.
Local residents were puzzled by his detention but mentioned his interest in RFA's Tibetan broadcasts, which he encouraged others to listen to.
"Some people speculate that one reason could be his connection with Radio Free Asia, while others said it could be because he made copies of a book written by [Tibetan poet] Hortsang Jigme who lives in the United States," a caller from the Amdo region told RFA.
Bora monastery lies around 10 miles (16 kms) south of Kanlho [in Chinese, Gannan] town in remote Gansu province, and is home to about 300 monks.
Another source also said Jamyang Gyatso might have been detained in connection with a book translation, and for helping local residents to receive RFA broadcasts in Tibetan.
The authorities were also looking for a friend of his, Lobsang Gyatso, 25, they said.
"Local people have no idea about the reason for the detention of Jamyang Gyatso. However, some people said it might be because he was blamed for some copies of a poetry book written by Hortsang Jigme, and his helping others to receive the programs of Radio Free Asia," the second source in Amdo said.
Several calls to the publicly listed number for the local police station were turned away as a wrong number, or the recipient hung up.
Tibet has been ruled by China since People's Liberation Army troops annexed the region in 1950.
The Dalai Lama, the region’s spiritual leader, fled to India in 1959 after a Tibetan uprising failed. He then established a government-in-exile in Dharamsala, northern India.
Images of or writings by the Dalai Lama are banned, and Chinese authorities punish anyone found in possession of them or believed to oppose Chinese rule.
Original reporting by RFA's Tibetan service. Director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated by Karma Dorjee and written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.