DHARAMSALA—The mother of two Tibetans detained for more than a month by Chinese security forces says she’s concerned over the fate of her sons, saying they cannot speak to their family and have yet to be formally charged.
“My sons were not involved in political activities, nor have they ever shown any interest in such things,” the men’s 60-year-old mother said in an interview. “The accusations made against them are unfounded and false.”
The detained men—Tsejor Gonpo, 43, and Choenga Tsering, 41—were picked up Dec. 7 by “a convoy of police vehicles” in Gartok town in Markham county, Chamdo prefecture, in the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to Tibetan sources.
Officers of China’s People’s Armed Police forced their way into a house where the brothers were eating breakfast and demanded that the men accompany them for questioning, the sources said.
The blaring of sirens and presence of large numbers of police attracted a crowd of onlookers, who saw the men handcuffed and taken away.
The two were held incommunicado for about two weeks, sources said.
Family members learned the men were being held at a detention center in Pashoe county, also in Chamdo.
On Jan. 22, sources said, at least 40 prefecture and county police officers in 10 vehicles then returned to the town and entered the brothers’ homes and businesses, which include a motel and a disco.
The men’s homes were thoroughly searched, and all videos—including children’s DVDs—found inside were seized, Tibetan witnesses said.
Chinese interrogators accused the two brothers of possessing arms, sharing politically sensitive information with “outsiders,” and hosting a well-known lama visiting from India, an unnamed source told the men’s mother.
The men denied the first two charges outright, challenging their interrogators to provide proof, the source said.
They also said the visiting lama in question had traveled to Tibet with the permission of the Chinese government and had been careful not to “infringe any rules or regulations” during his stay.
Authorities contacted by telephone declined to comment on the detentions.
Also in Chamdo prefecture, in Jomda county, a monk confirmed that three monks from a nearby monastery had also recently been detained.
Chamdo, according to a 2009 report by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, isn't an area known for widespread protests or anti-Chinese activities, possibly because of what it called "pre-emptive policing."
“Yes, the police detained three monks from Jorphu monastery,” the monk said, speaking on condition that neither he nor his own monastery be named.
Two of the monks—Sangye Gyatso, 29, and Apho, 30—were detained at the end of December after trying to stop the beating of a Tibetan by Chinese police, according to an earlier report.
The third monk, Tulku Jangchub, 26, was picked up by police on Jan. 16 or 17 after making remarks calling for religious freedom in Tibet.
An official at the Bureau of Religious Affairs in Jomda county declined to comment, saying, “I’m sorry. I am not at liberty to give you this information.”
Violence in 2008
Many Tibetans have chafed for years under Chinese rule, which they say has significantly curbed their freedom to practice Buddhism or speak Tibetan and has expressly diluted their traditional culture.
Chinese authorities cite massive infrastructure development and a rising standard of living in the region under Beijing’s control.
Rioting rocked the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in March 2008 and spread to Tibetan-populated regions of western China, causing official embarrassment ahead of the August 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Chinese officials say 21 people—including three Tibetan protesters—died in the violence.
The India-based Tibetan government-in-exile estimates that 220 Tibetans were killed and 7,000 were detained in a subsequent region-wide crackdown.
Original reporting by RFA’s Kham Tibetan service and by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated from the Tibetan by Dorjee Damdul and from the Mandarin by Jennifer Chou. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Written in English by Richard Finney and edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.