WASHINGTON, April 30, 2003--Authorities in the China's Gansu Province this month arrested two Tibetan monks, apparently for political reasons, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Wednesday. One of the monks remains in custody.

Local Chinese security officials detained Jigme Jamdrup, 37, and Kunchok Jamyang, 40, on April 11, according to Tibetan sources who spoke to RFA's Tibetan service between April 26-29. Both men belong to the Labrang Tashikyel monastery in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the sources said. Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture forms part of what was traditionally known as the Amdo region of Tibet, now under the administration of Gansu Province in northwestern China.

Both Jigme Jamdrup and Kunchok Jamyang �have a history of arrest,� one person told RFA�s Tibetan service. �Jigme Jamdrup was arrested on May 2, 1996 for allegedly spreading propaganda against the Chinese government--he was sentenced to two years in prison and one year without his political rights. Kunchok Jamyang was also arrested in May 1995 for political reasons and detained for three months.�

Jigme Jamdrup was released on bail April 23, sources said. �He was too scared to say anything about the arrest including his place of detention,� one person said. Officials later searched the residences of both men, and they reportedly found some documents in Kunchok Jamyang's home.

When the men's relatives inquired about them after their arrest, "the local security officials had no definite answer, but they said the men could possibly be charged with separatist activites and undermining unity," another source said.

Kunchok Jamyang remains in custody.

According to the State Department's most recent report on human rights worldwide, issued in March this year, the Chinese government's human rights record in Tibet remained poor, despite some positive developments.

Authorities there "continued to commit serious human rights abuses, including instances of torture, arbitrary arrest, detention without public trial, and lengthy detention of Tibetan nationalists for peacefully expressing their political or religious views" in 2002, the report said.

"The overall level of repression of religious freedom in Tibet, while somewhat less oppressive for lay followers than in previous years, remained high."

"Individuals accused of political activism faced ongoing harassment during the year. There were reports of imprisonment and abuse of nuns and monks accused of political activism."

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content. #####


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