China Detains Three For Social Media Discussion of Tibetan Exile Election

Tibetans Vote for Sikyong to Head Exile Government Buddhist monks line up in Bylakuppe, India, to cast their votes for a Tibetan government-in-exile, March 20, 2016.

Authorities in northwestern China’s Qinghai province have detained three Tibetans for allegedly discussing on social media the recent elections for the Tibetan government in exile, RFA’s Tibetan service has learned.

The three were taken into custody in Chugo Desar village in Matoe (in Chinese, Maduo) county in Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture by four local Chinese police officers on March 30 at around 10 a.m.

Samdrup, a prominent 40-year-old from Chugo Desar village; Lhadon, whose family name is Namgyal; and Rongsher, a 29-year-old, are being held at the People's Court in Matoe county, sources told RFA.

"Three locals, including Samdrup, a local leader, Rongsher, and Lhadon were forcibly detained without explanation by four Chinese policemen," an anonymous source from inside Tibet told RFA.

According to the source, "they were detained for taking part in a group chat on social media,” likely on the popular WeChat platform.

All three are alleged to have participated in a group discussion about the recent 2016 election of the Tibetan political leader-in-exile known as the Sikyong that took place at 85 locations around the world.

“They are being detained in the People's Court in Matoe county, and until now their family members have not been allowed to meet or contact them,” the source said.

Samdrup has acted for many years as a leader of the sixth camp of the Chugo Desar settlement, and is a deputy head of 150 households in the village’s first, third, and fifth camps.

Lhadon, family name Namgyal, is the mother of one son, Tsegyalmo, and one daughter, Darkar, aged 8 and 11.

Rongsher, a 29 year old is married without children.

On March 20, Tibetans elected a Sikyong responsible for political and diplomatic decisions for the Dharamsala, India-based government-in-exile known as the Central Tibetan Administration.

The Tibet Sun and have reported that incumbent Lobsang Sangay has a substantial lead over parliamentary speaker Penpa Tsering in the race for Sikyong, or the top leader of the government-in-exile. The official election results are scheduled to be released on April 27.

Exiled Tibetans see the CTA as their legitimate government, despite the Chinese government’s attempt to marginalize it. It is based in Dharamsala, India, where a community of Tibetans lives with their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by Sonam Wangdu for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.


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