Tibetan Monk Emerges From Two-Month Stint in Sichuan Jail in Poor Health

2015-08-05
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Tibetan monk Lobsang Tsering in an undated photo.
Tibetan monk Lobsang Tsering in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province have freed a Tibetan monk detained for two months for planning celebrations marking the birthday of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, releasing him to his home in poor health, sources said.

Lobsang Tsering, a monk of Kirti monastery in Sichuan's Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was released from custody on Aug. 4, a Tibetan living in the region told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.

“He had been held for two months in a dark cell with only the sound of an airplane flying above his place of detention each day,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He thinks that he was kept in a detention center in the area of [Sichuan’s provincial capital] Chengdu, but he doesn’t know the exact location,” the source said.

Taken to a Chinese military post following his release, Tsering was joined by a monk named Tenzin who had been sent to escort him home, and both arrived at Kirti monastery at about 4:00 p.m., the source said.

“[Tsering’s] health is reported to be poor, and he could not walk without support,” he said.

Tsering was detained on June 11 because of his involvement in preparing celebrations of the 80th birthday of the Dalai Lama, the source said.

“He was accused of building a throne and of forming a [social media] WeChat group to encourage activities sparing animals’ lives to gain merit for the Dalai Lama’s long life,” he said.

Tightened restrictions

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.

Tsering’s Kirti monastery has been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.

Authorities raided the institution in 2011, taking away hundreds of monks and sending them for “political re-education” while local Tibetans who sought to protect the monks were beaten and detained, sources said in earlier reports.

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 Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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