Popular Tibetan religious teacher Khenpo Kartse has been released from prison after serving two and a half years following his conviction on charges widely believed to have been fabricated by Chinese authorities, Tibetan sources say.
Kartse was taken into custody on Dec. 6, 2013, in the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu and charged at first with “harming state security.” He was later accused of harboring a fugitive monk linked to a bombing incident, and was sentenced on that charge.
He was released from prison in Chengdu on June 4 after completing his sentence, the online Tibet Times reported on July 15, quoting a source in Dharamsala, India.
“But he has not been allowed to return to his monastery, and is staying under close supervision with a relative in Yulshul [in Chinese, Yushu]” prefecture in neighboring Qinghai province, the Times said in its report.
“His current health condition remains unknown,” the Times said.
'Many passes still to climb'
An undated posting on social media apparently by Kartse himself and accompanied by a photo taken after his release thanks his friends and supporters for their concern during his time in jail.
“In order to fulfill my secular and spiritual duties, I have returned in good health,” Kartse wrote. “But I still have many passes to climb.”
“May the light rays of freedom shine on our world.”
Kartse, whose title Khenpo denotes a senior religious teacher or abbot, was active before his imprisonment in social work in the Yulshul area, including in relief efforts following a devastating April 2010 earthquake, and was well-respected among Tibetans for his work to protect and promote the Tibetan language, culture, and religion.
At the end of December 2013, 16 monks from Kartse’s Japa monastery in Yulshul’s Nangchen (Nanqian) county were detained after protesting for Kartse’s release, sparking wider protests by Tibetans at Japa the following month.
Reported by Sonam Lhamo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.