Tibetan Singer Jailed for Album Seeking Freedom

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Tibetan singer Lo Lo in an undated photo.
Tibetan singer Lo Lo in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A court in western China’s Qinghai province has ordered a popular Tibetan singer to be jailed for up to six years for calling for an end to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas while a monk who had written some of his lyrics has been imprisoned on unknown charges after being tortured in detention, according to sources.

In Sichuan province, another monk has meanwhile been taken into custody after participating in a group protest seeking “freedom for Tibetans,” sources said.

Singer Lo Lo, 30, who was detained in April 2012 after releasing an album of songs calling for Tibetan independence, was handed a six-year term, on Feb. 23,  Lobsang Sangye, an India-based Tibetan, told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday, citing sources in the region.

His detention came months after he had released a CD titled “Raise High the Flag of Tibet, Sons of the Snows,” which contained lyrics calling for freedom for Tibet, the unity of the Tibetan people, and the return of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

Released after his initial detention, Lo Lo was picked up again on Feb. 23 and sentenced along with monk Lobsang Jinpa, who had written the lyrics for some of Lo Lo’s songs, sources said.

Monk also jailed

Lobsang Jinpa, 31, one of five monks detained on Sept. 1, 2012, at the Zilkar monastery in Qinghai’s Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) prefecture,  was handed a five-year jail term on Feb. 23, Sangye said.

“During the time that he was detained, he was severely tortured, causing serious harm to his health,” he said. ”He was released, but was taken again from the monastery on Feb. 23 and sentenced to five years in jail.”

Details regarding the court that sentenced the two men, the specific charges against them, and their present place of confinement are still unknown because of tight restrictions on communications from the area, Sangye said.

Two of the other monks who were originally detained with Lobsang Jinpa have been released because of their “physical condition,” Sangye said, adding that one, Ngawang Monlam, was let go after only a month because of a “handicap.”

Two others, Ngawang Sherab and Sonam Yignyen, received prison sentences of two years each last year, sources said.

Protesters escape

Meanwhile, three monks belonging to the Lingkha Shi Yaso monastery in Sichuan province’s Bathang (in Chinese, Batang) county staged a public protest on March 8, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing sources in the region.

“They were carrying the [banned] Tibetan national flag and shouted slogans calling for the long life of the Dalai Lama, freedom for Tibetans, independence for Tibet, and Tibetan language rights,” said Bapa Kalsang Gyaltsen, a member of Tibet’s exile parliament.

Security forces arrived on the scene and took one monk, named Tashi Dorje, into custody, Gyaltsen said, adding,“The names of the other two have not been disclosed, as they have not been captured yet.”

“A large statue of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was recently built at Lingkha Shi Yaso monastery, but Chinese authorities refused to allow the statue to be consecrated, resulting in a standoff between locals and the officials,” Gyaltsen said.

Tibetan residents of the area have also launched protests against Chinese mining in the area, leading to deaths and injuries among local people, Gyaltsen added.

“The situation is very tense now,” he said.

Reported by Rigdhen Dolma, Kunsang Tenzin, and Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee, Dorjee Damdul, and Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.





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