A Tibetan monk held in prison in western China’s Sichuan province was freed by authorities Wednesday after serving a seven-year term for opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, according to Tibetan sources.
His release came just days after four other monks and a layman were taken into custody by police late at night on unknown charges in a restive county in Tibet.
Tendar, the chant leader at Amchok Tsenyi monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was freed on April 1 after completing his full sentence, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
He had been handed a seven-year term in 2008 for taking part in area protests challenging Chinese rule, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Monks from Tsenyi monastery and relatives went to meet him at Mianyang prison, near [the provincial capital] Chengdu, and offered him ceremonial white scarves” as a symbol of welcome and respect, the source said.
At the time of his release, he was wearing a T-shirt with the words “I am a Tibetan,” “Peace and nonviolence,” and “Speak truth” written in Tibetan on its front, the source said.
No word was immediately available regarding Tendar’s present state of health or plans to return to his home village.
Four monks, one layman held
Also on Wednesday, a source told RFA that Chinese authorities over the weekend detained four monks and a layman in Tibet’s restive Sog county, taking them into custody on unspecified charges following the roundup earlier this month of at least eight other monks from the same monastery.
The four were detained late at night on March 28 in Sog (in Chinese, Suo) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture, Ngawang Tharpa, a Tibetan living India, told RFA.
Tharpa identified the jailed monks as Jigme Wangyal, Choeying Choega, and Choephel Dawa—all from Sog Tsenden monastery—and a layman, Dorje Drakpa.
All were described as natives of Sog county’s Yakla township.
One of those detained, Choephel Dawa, 27, had previously served a two-year prison term after being seized by police on unknown charges on Jan. 15, 2012, Tharpa said, citing local sources.
Chinese authorities provided no reason for the men’s detention, Tharpa said.
“Owing to heavy police restrictions in the area, communication even among the local Tibetans themselves has become difficult, so details of the detentions are hard to obtain,” he said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, and Chinese police routinely block information flows from Tibetan areas in an attempt to prevent unrest from spreading, sources say.
Reported by Chakmo Tso and Tenzin Wangyal for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.