A previously unnamed Tibetan woman detained by police last week for staging a solo protest in Sichuan’s Ngaba county has been identified as Konchok Drolma, a housewife and mother of two young children, Tibetan sources in the region and in exile say.
"She has a seven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter,” a Tibetan man living in Switzerland named Sonam told RFA’s Tibetan Service on July 22, citing sources in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county.
“She is a stay-at-home mother and an ordinary housewife,” Sonam said. “Her mother’s name is Tamdrin Kyi.”
Drolma, who wore a white dress and appeared to be in her 20s, was taken into custody at around 4:00 p.m. on July 14 while walking down a street known locally as Heroes Road in the Ngaba county seat, an area resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service in an earlier report.
She was holding up a photo of [exiled Tibetan spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Drolma was quickly overpowered and taken away by Chinese police stationed along Heroes Road, the site of many protests by Tibetans in the past, the source said.
Her current condition and whereabouts are still unknown.
'Inconvenient to speak'
The protest sparked a brief flurry of comments online from area residents, with some saying that Drolma, then still unidentified, had come from Ngaba county’s Churle Karma village, where one resident told a reporter on Friday he had not heard about the incident.
“Besides, it is inconvenient for me to speak about this on the phone. It is better in particular not to say anything about issues related to Tibetan politics,” he said.
Chinese authorities in Tibetan areas closely watch exchanges on the internet and record conversations on the popular social media platform WeChat, routinely detaining and questioning anyone suspected of spreading news about Tibetan protests to outside contacts.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 145 Tibetans living in China have 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 Sonam Wangdu and Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.