Chinese Authorities Detain Eight Tibetans Over Links to Grassroots Campaign

'Khenpo' Kartse in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of Tsering Woeser.

Eight Tibetans have been detained in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Chamdo (in Chinese, Changdu) prefecture over their links to a grassroots campaign aimed at forging unity and enhancing literacy levels among Tibetans, according to sources.

They were detained in two groups on Sunday and Friday in Karma township, where a popular Tibetan religious figure has been accused of carrying out anti-state activities and was detained by police nearly a month ago, the sources told RFA's Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Five of the eight Tibetans were detained after the authorities conducted a search of Tibetan homes over their role in a movement established last year to end Tibetan in-fighting and forge greater Tibetan unity, one source said.

"Those five were identified as Barlo Yudrung, Denma Tratop, Ngora Tashi Namgyal, Draktsa Dorje Rigzin, and Yibnub Sonam," the source said. "Before they were taken away, several police and government workers arrived in Karma town and started searching the Tibetan houses."

The source said that those involved in the Tibetan unity movement were asked to go to the police station, where the five were later held. Some of them also endured police beatings, according to the source.

The other three Tibetans held on Friday were identified as Phuntsok Namgyal, Pema Tsultrim, and Dorje Lodroe, another Tibetan source said.

Anti-illiteracy drive

They were linked to an anti-illiteracy drive among Tibetans which the authorities had labeled as illegal, the source said.

Police "detained them and removed the unity band worn around their necks," another Tibetan source said.

It is not immediately clear whether the detentions of the five are linked to the arrest of popular Tibetan religious figure, Khenpo Kartse, 38, nearly a month ago.

Kartse, who uses the religious title “Khenpo,” denoting a senior religious teacher or abbot in Tibet’s monastic system, was detained on Dec. 6 in Chengdu, the capital of nearby Sichuan province, when he went to buy a statue for his monastery in Yulshul’s Nangchen (Nanjian) county in Qinghai province.

Sources said that Chinese authorities had suspected him of involvement in anti-state activities in Karma town.

He was taken into custody by Chamdo security officials who traveled all the way to Sichuan to detain him, sources said.

Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


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