Chinese Authorities Detain Tibetan Educator and Author in Sichuan Capital

Go Sherab Gyatso, vocal on democratic rights, was detained twice before in 1998 and 2008.
2021-04-05
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Chinese Authorities Detain Tibetan Educator and Author in Sichuan Capital A Tibetan monk walks into Kirti Monastery’s main prayer hall, in Ngaba, Sichuan province, in a file photo.
AFP

Authorities in China’s Sichuan province have arrested a well-known Tibetan educator and author who has twice endured lengthy detentions for expressing loyalty to Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and during a period of unrest in the region.

Go Sherab Gyatso, a 46-year-old monk at Kirti monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was taken into custody by State Security agents on Oct. 26, 2020 in Sichuan’s capital Chengdu, a Tibetan living in exile with knowledge of the situation recently told RFA’s Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“My source in Tibet confirmed that Go Sherab Gyatso was arrested and his whereabouts are currently unknown,” the source in exile said.

“The reason for his arrest is not clear and his family and friends are worried about him.”

The source in exile said that Gyatso’s detention was unsurprising in that Chinese authorities “are constantly harassing Tibetans in Ngaba,” particularly those who have studied in India and returned home.

“So many restrictions are in place when it comes to movement, as well as life in general,” he said.

Chinese authorities exercise strict controls over phone and online communications in Tibetan areas, sources say, and news of Tibetan protests and arrests is often delayed, sometimes for years, from reaching outside contacts.

Gyatso authored the book “We Need To Wake Up,” published in 2007 by Gansu Nationalities Press, and several articles detailing the restrictions on freedom of expression that Tibetans endure under Chinese rule. His book followed what reports have said was his four-year detention, beginning in 1998 during a “Patriotic Reeducation” campaign in Ngaba, for possessing a portrait of the Dalai Lama.

Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is widely reviled by Chinese leaders as a separatist intent on splitting Tibet, a formerly independent Himalayan country which was invaded and incorporated into China by force in 1950, from Beijing’s control.

The Dalai Lama himself says only that he seeks a greater autonomy for Tibet as a part of China, though, with guaranteed protections for Tibet’s language, culture, and religion.

Gyatso was also reportedly detained for a year in 2008 during a period of widespread unrest in Tibet, although the specific reasons for that detention were not immediately clear.

RFA spoke with a Tibetan scholar in Tibet who called Gyatso “a very influential figure among the younger generation” of Tibetans.

“He is considered a very open-minded person who speaks out about democracy and freedom, and believes that religion should not play any role in politics,” said the scholar, who also declined to be named, citing fear of reprisal.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of ethnic and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Lobe for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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