Tibetan Teen Detained Over Freedom Posters in Driru

driru-map2-305 A map of Driru county in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in Tibet.

Chinese police have detained a young Tibetan who put up posters calling for freedom as authorities further tighten controls in a county in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) that has been resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state, sources said.

Sonam Tobgyal, 16, a resident of Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in the TAR’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture, was taken into custody on Nov. 26, a day after he posted notices declaring that Tibetans have no freedom under Beijing’s rule, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.

“He put his name on each poster and pasted them around a cultural center built by the Chinese authorities in Driru’s Chaktse township,” Driru Samdrub said, citing sources in the area.

“He did this on Nov. 25 while government workers and security personnel were asleep inside the building, and the authorities detained him the next day and took him away,” he said.

Tobgyal, a resident of Chaktse township’s Deda Village No. 5 and whose father’s name is Tsekyab, is a nomad but had also attended school, Samdrub said.

No information concerning his present whereabouts or condition has been made available, Samdrub added.

'Politically unstable'

Chinese security forces in recent weeks have been raiding monks’ quarters and family homes in “politically unstable” Driru county, seizing computers and mobile phones and conducting daily political re-education classes for area residents, according to sources in the region and in exile.

About 1,000 Tibetans have been detained since authorities launched a crackdown in Driru in September when Beijing began a campaign to force Tibetans to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, sources say.

The campaign intensified in early October when villagers refused to fly the flags, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.

“The Chinese government has identified Driru as a county without political stability,” one source told RFA in an e-mail forwarded from Tibet.

“It believes that if Driru is not brought under control, this could have a disruptive impact in other areas,” RFA’s source said.

Area monks who have studied at Buddhist institutions in neighboring Chinese provinces are being recalled for indoctrination, while monks who have visited India and Nepal are being targeted for “intense re-education sessions,” he said.

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 124 Tibetans in China have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.

Reported by Pema Ngodup for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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