WASHINGTON—Authorities in the western Chinese province of Qinghai have jailed five Tibetan monks for two to three years each, apparently for publishing politically sensitive poems.
All five were arrested around Jan. 16 and sentenced 20 days later, sources told RFA’s Tibetan service on condition of anonymity. The monks are now serving their sentences near Xiling in Qinghai Province, several sources said.
The monks were identified as the monastery’s lead abbot, Gen (teacher) Tashi Gyaltsen, Tsultrim Phelgyal, Tsesum Samten, Jhamphel Gyatso, and Lobsang Thargyal. All had been living at the Dakar Treldzong monastery in the Tsolho area of Qinghai, the sources said.
In 1995, the monastery began publishing a newsletter, of which Tashi Gyaltsen was chief editor. Chinese authorities alleged that some poems in the newsletter carried tacit political messages, the sources said.
The newsletter’s lead editors—Tashi Gyaltsen, Tsultrim Phelgyal, and Jhamphel Gyatso—received three-year sentences, while Tsesum Samten and Lobsang Thargyal were handed two-year jail terms, the sources said.
The government argued that the newsletter contained poems and articles in praise of three other monks from the same monastery who are now completing their own jail terms.
Tashi Gyaltsen studied at [the] Tashi Khel [monastery] for many years and came back... and started teaching... He is highly respected in the monastery.
Tashi Gyaltsen "studied at [the] Tashi Khel [monastery] for many years and came back... and started teaching," one source said, adding, "He is highly respected in the monastery."
Chinese authorities familiar with the case couldn't immediately be reached for comment, and the identity of the sentencing body was unclear.
In its 2005 report on human rights around the world, Human Rights Watch said "the Chinese leadership continues to limit Tibetan religious and cultural expression and seeks to curtail the Dalai Lama's political and religious influence in all Tibetan areas."
"Severely repressive measures limit any display of support for an independent Tibet," Human Rights Watch said.