WASHINGTON, April 2, 2004�Chinese state security officials have arrested a Tibetan singer and composer in a traditionally Tibetan area now part of China�s Qinghai Province, apparently because of the implicit political content of their music, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

The singer and composer, known as Namkha and Bakocha respectively, were taken into custody around March 10 in Tongde County, in Qinghai Province, according to several sources who asked not to be identified. �Nobody knows about their whereabouts,� said one source.

�Chinese State Security officials... in Hainan Prefecture under Qinghai Province are confiscating all CDs made by Namkha,� one source told RFA�s Tibetan service. �Local security officials even went to the monastery and instructed the monks to surrender those CDs. They warned the monks that they would face serious consequences� if they were found to possess Namkha�s music, the source said.

Both men come from a nomadic area in Qinghai. Bakocha is a monk at the Ba Shangtse Monastery in Tongde County.

Chinese state security officials in the area declined to comment.

The arrests appear to have been prompted by the mildly political content of Namkha�s songs, sources said. The songs in question are titled �Tsenpoe Poi nya,� or �King's Messenger,� and "Amdo Pogoe," meaning �Courageous Amdo Man.�

"Namkha became a popular singer recently and Bakocha he composed the songs,� said one source. �There isn�t actually any serious [explicit] political content, but it all depends how you interpret them.�

The arrests come amid signs that Chinese officials may be taking a tougher line on dissent among Tibetans.

On Feb. 12, Chinese Public Security Bureau officials in a county near the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, arrested a young monk for keeping in his quarters a photograph of the Dalai Lama and a Tibetan national flag. The Dalai Lama, Tibet's religious and political leader, fled Lhasa in 1959 after an unsuccessful revolt against Chinese rule. He leads the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in Dharamsala, India.

Five days after the arrest, six Chinese police officers called a meeting of some 500 monks at Gaden, telling them that Choeden Rinzen had been arrested for "possessing anti-government materials," one source said.

Choeden Rinzen�s arrest preceded a crackdown at a local television station, Tibet Television 3, after it inadvertently showed footage of a man in Kathmandu with a Tibetan national flag behind him. The head of the station, a Tibetan, was questioned and forced to acknowledge his "mistake."

Beijing has also recently outlawed a book, written by a Tibetan writer in Chinese, touching on sensitive religious issues, including how the exiled Dalai Lama is still revered by Tibetans inside Tibet. Author Oser (Eds: one name) found her Notes on Tibet essay collection banned after she tried to publish it in the freewheeling southern province of Guangdong.

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. Please visit www.rfa.org to learn more about RFA or to listen to RFA broadcasts. #####


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.