Popular Tibetan singer, composer released from detention


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KATHMANDU, May 17, 2004�Chinese authorities have released two popular Tibetan musicians two months after detaining them, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. Relatives of Namkha, a Tibetan singer, and Bokocha, a monk and composer, have said the men weren�t mistreated in custody.

Chinese security forces returned the two men around May 5 to a spot about 10 kms from a county known as Kawasumdo in Tibetan and Tongde in Chinese, according to sources who asked not to be named. "A large group of family members, monks, and friends went to receive them," one source told RFA�s Tibetan service.

Neither of the men has spoken in detail about his detention, and precisely where they were held remains unknown, the sources said. Relatives said the men weren�t mistreated, although Namkha appeared to have an injured shoulder on his return. Namkha�s relatives declined to comment on his health and said he was unavailable to speak on the phone. Bokocha, who was in retreat at the time of his arrest, has already resumed his retreat, sources said.

"The arrest of Namkha and Bokocha brought the local monasteries and the community together," said one source. "There are four monasteries in the area� Every one of those monasteries organized prayers for their release. Even the local community were very much united behind them."

Another source said the two men appeared to be under continued watch by Chinese security officials and under some additional restrictions. No details were immediately available.

The two men were arrested around March 10 in Tongde County, a traditionally Tibetan area now part of China�s Qinghai Province, apparently because of the implicit political content of their music. Chinese State Security officials were also reportedly confiscating all of Namkha�s CDs and warned local monks of "serious consequences" if they were found to possess Namkha�s music, sources said.

One song, titled "King�s Messenger," begins: "Dear youths of Tibet/Those who are left behind in Tibet should not remain timid./Raise your head with pride,/I am the messenger of the King." Another song that appears to have drawn official ire is titled "Amdo Pogoe," meaning "Courageous Amdo Man."

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

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