A Tibetan monk missing since November last year and believed detained by Chinese police has been located by his family at a prison in Sichuan, a source in the region says.
The monk, enrolled in Ngaba prefecture's restive Kirti monastery and identified only by the name Lodroe, was secretly taken into custody on November 18, “with his whereabouts later unknown,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“His family and other relatives searched for him far and wide, and finally found him languishing in a prison in Lunggu [in Chinese, Wenchuan] county” in Ngaba (Aba), the source said, adding, “The charges against him have never been announced.”
Previously arrested in October 2011 for making a Tibetan national flag and released after serving a three-year sentence, Lodroe may have been detained again for celebrating the birthday last year of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, RFA’s source said.
“He and some friends who had also been released from jail formed a group on [the social media platform] WeChat coinciding with the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, so some believe he may have been detained because of this,” he said.
Hundreds of Tibetans gathered at monasteries in western China’s Qinghai and Gansu provinces last year in defiance of Chinese bans to celebrate the birthday of the Dalai Lama, burning incense and offering prayers in honor of the exiled spiritual leader, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
The celebrations were held despite widespread efforts by officials across Tibetan-populated regions to warn against observances of the politically sensitive event and to block public gatherings that could be linked to it.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, and Lodroe’s Kirti monastery has been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by Tibetan monks, former monks, and nuns.
A total of 145 Tibetans living in China have now set themselves ablaze in self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, with most protests featuring calls for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return from India, where he has lived since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.