A Tibetan businessman freed by police last year after being questioned over a solo protest in western China’s Sichuan province has been returned to custody after celebrating the birthday of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources said.
Pasang Wangchuk, 37 and a father of three, was detained on July 6 after making offerings in public to mark the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday in defiance of Chinese bans, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“Police regarded the incense offering to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a political offense,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing local sources.
“He was taken into custody shortly afterward, and is now being held in detention,” the source said.
Wangchuk is believed to be confined now in a prison in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, but no word has been received regarding his current condition, the source said.
News of Wangchuk’s July 6 detention was delayed in reaching outside contacts due to communication blocks imposed by Chinese authorities in the area.
Wangchuk had also been detained in October 2014 after staging a solo protest in the market area of Kardze town in which he had shouted slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return to Tibet of the Dalai Lama.
When he was released a month later, “police warned him that they would be watching his behavior for a year,” RFA’s source said.
The Dalai Lama, who is regarded by Chinese authorities as a dangerous separatist intent on splitting Tibet away from China, fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule.
Chinese authorities tightened restrictions across Tibetan-populated regions this year in advance of the Dalai Lama’s birthday on July 6, posting warnings against celebrations of the politically sensitive event and blocking public gatherings that could be linked to it.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 142 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Sonam Wangdue for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.