Tibetan Man Arrested in Sichuan for Failure to Attend Chinese Propaganda Lecture

Sherab Dorje, 19, had also petitioned authorities to allow Tibetan schoolchildren to be taught in their own language.
2021.08.18
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Tibetan Man Arrested in Sichuan for Failure to Attend Chinese Propaganda Lecture Sherab Dorje is shown being arrested by Chinese police in Sichuan's Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Aug. 16, 2021.
Photo from Tibet

Police in western China’s Sichuan province on Monday arrested a Tibetan man who had refused to take part in a propaganda meeting organized by local authorities to praise the ruling Chinese Communist Party and instruct Tibetan residents in government objectives, according to sources in Tibet.

Sherab Dorje, age 19 and a resident of Trotsik township in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was taken into custody near his home and led away in handcuffs, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“A few police officers recently arrived in Trotsik to enforce the Communist Party’s political education campaign for young Tibetans to ensure they don’t rebel against the government’s policies,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Sherab Dorje didn’t attend the meeting, so he was arrested later near his house and put in handcuffs,” the source said, adding, “He’s still being held in custody.”

Dorje, a graduate of the Machu County Middle School in Gansu province's Kanlho (Gannan) prefecture, may also have come to the attention of police by joining with students in submitting a petition opposing county government orders to give classroom instruction only in Chinese when schools reopen at the end of this year’s summer vacation, sources said.

Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with Tibetan schools including kindergartens and elementary schools now teaching almost entirely in Chinese.

Informally organized language courses in the monasteries and towns are typically deemed “illegal associations” and teachers are subject to detention and arrest, sources say.

Politically sensitive discussions

Police in Trotsik also arrested a senior monk at a local monastery last month on suspicion of holding politically sensitive discussions on the popular WeChat social media platform, sources told RFA in an earlier report.

Konmey, a 45-year-old monk in charge of discipline at Ngaba’s Trotsik monastery, was taken into custody on July 20, a source in Ngaba told RFA.

“He had performed prayers on his WeChat group, but he only talked about the number of prayers he had accumulated,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He said nothing at all about political issues.”

Communications clampdowns in Tibet and Tibetan areas of western China have made it difficult to learn the details of protests, arrests, or other information considered politically sensitive by Chinese authorities, sources have told RFA.

Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.

Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.

Reported by Sangyal Kunchok for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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