Chinese Authorities Release Tibetan Singer Who Sought Language Protection

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

Chinese authorities in Sichuan have freed on bail a Tibetan singer detained last month for singing a song calling for the protection of the Tibetan language, at the same time releasing a Tibetan monk jailed for three years for protesting Chinese rule, sources said.

Singer Gebe, who was detained on May 24 following a concert performance in Zungchu (in Chinese, Songpan) county in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was released on bail after written “assurances” of good conduct were given by his family, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Monday.

“After his release, he was handed over to Ngaba [county] police by Zungchu police” before being returned to his family, RFA’s source said.

It is not clear whether the bail was imposed pending trial on any charges.

During his May 24 performance, Gebe had sung songs “containing strong Tibetan themes,” RFA’s source said, adding, “When he came out afterward, the police were waiting for him and took him away.”

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

Before he was detained, Gebe had avoided contact with the police after Chinese authorities in 2012 banned and confiscated a recording he released that year which was deemed to contain nationalist themes, the source said.

“He remained in hiding for some time until his detention on May 24,” the source said.

Welcomed after release

Ngawang Lobsang on his release, June 13, 2014. (Photo courtesy of an RFA listener)
Ngawang Lobsang on his release, June 13, 2014. (Photo courtesy of an RFA listener)

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities in neighboring Kardze (Ganzi) prefecture released a Tibetan monk on Friday after he had served a three-year prison term for staging a protest challenging Chinese rule, sources said.

“Ngawang Lobsang was released on June 13 and received a warm welcome from the monks of Dargye monastery and the nearby Tibetan community,” a Tibetan source in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing local contacts.

Lobsang, a monk of Dargye monastery in the prefecture’s Kardze county, had been taken into custody on June 15, 2011 after he knelt down in the county seat and “called for the return of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama and for freedom for Tibet,” RFA’s source said.

Before his protest, Lobsang had prayed and made offerings at the monastery, he said.

“He was taken away from Kardze town after the incident, and his condition was unknown for a year and a half,” he said, adding, “Later, it was confirmed that he had been handed a three-year sentence by the Kardze prefectural court.”

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Reported by Lumbum Tashi, Pema Ngodup, Kunsang Tenzin, and Yangdon Demo for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.