Tibetan Monk Detained Over Banned Cell-Phone Content

tibet-chamdo-map-305.jpg A map showing Chamdo prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Chinese police have detained a Tibetan monk in the Chamdo prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region after accusing him of sharing politically sensitive information with others from his mobile phone, according to a Tibetan source.

It was the second such incident to be reported in recent days from the TAR’s Chamdo (in Chinese, Changdu) prefecture. On Feb. 28, Chinese authorities detained and fatally beat another monk after finding him in possession of banned writings and videos.

In the latest case, Lobsang Choejor, a senior monk of Drongsar monastery in Chamdo’s Pashoe (Basu) county, was taken into custody on March 4 after police “conducted a raid and searched his room,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.

“Police demanded that he hand over his mobile phone, but Lobsang Choejor denied owning a phone and refused to comply with their instructions,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Police conducting the search accused Choejor of using his phone to send information to “outside contacts” through the WeChat microblog messaging service and of distributing teachings and talks by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, the source said.

“So he was taken away from the monastery.”

'Need to unite'

During the search, Choejor  was found in possession of several articles on the need for Tibetans to unite in taking action for the cause of Tibet, the source said.

It was not clear whether a phone was also seized by authorities conducting the search, “but county police officials had clearly monitored Lobsang Choejor’s phone for a long time and were aware of the content contained on it.”

Choejor, a native of Pashoe county’s Tsaphuk village, was the second most-senior monk at Drongsar monastery before he was detained and was “revered by all,” the source said.

Drongsar is now under watch by Chinese authorities in Pashoe, who have mounted a new campaign to restrict the use of mobile phones in area monasteries, he added.

Fatally beaten

Meanwhile, a monk detained last week on suspicion of possessing politically sensitive writings and video recordings died March 1 after being severely beaten in custody, according to a Tibetan source.

Tashi Paljor, 34, a monk at Chamdo’s Wenpo monastery, died en route to a hospital after authorities returned him to his family the day after he was detained, a local resident told RFA.

“It was very clear that his death was caused by torture suffered in detention,” the source said.

“He was a young and healthy man before he was detained, but he could not even speak when he was released into the care of his family,” he said.

Tibetans have held sporadic demonstrations against human rights abuses by Chinese authorities and challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 127 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

Reported by Soepa Gyatso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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