Chinese authorities have detained three Tibetans accused of activities challenging Beijing’s rule in a restive county in the Tibet Autonomous Region, at the same time freeing a prisoner jailed 14 years ago on related charges, according to Tibetan sources.
Rinchen Wangdu, of the Palha family, and Phurtse, of the Gajig family, were taken into custody on March 28 in Trido township in Nagchu (in Chinese, Naqu) prefecture’s Sog (Suo) county, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“They were accused of sharing text messages on events inside Tibet by phone,” Ngawang Tharpa, who lives in India, said, citing local sources.
A monk known only as Ade was seized by police the same day at Sog county’s Drilda monastery, Tharpa said.
“He was detained as a ‘person of interest’ in connection with the painting of independence slogans in red paint near an iron bridge in the area,” he said.
Sog is one of three neighboring counties in Tibet’s eastern Nagchu prefecture from which Chinese authorities fear political unrest may spread unchecked to other parts of the region.
An Oct. 8 order issued by police in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa calls for Tibetans traveling from Sog, Drachen (Baqing), and Driru (Biru) to receive greater scrutiny as they move about the city.
Police have now set up checkpoints on the roads connecting Trido township’s ten villages to monitor the movements of area residents, Tharpa said.
“There are three checkpoints alone along the 12-mile road between Drilda monastery and Trido, and any Tibetan traveling between these two points is stopped and interrogated,” he said.
Call for independence
Meanwhile, a Tibetan monk jailed for 14 years of a 15-year term for calling for Tibet’s independence was released last week and returned to his home in Sog, Tharpa said.
Tsering Lhagon, who was detained with four other monks and a layman in 2000, was sentenced by the People’s Intermediate Court in Nagchu that same year and was held first in Drapchi prison in Lhasa and then at Chushul prison outside the city.
Taken into custody with Lhagon were Si Khedrup, Yeshe Tendzin, Ngawang Gyurme, Tendzin Choewang, and Trakru Yeshe, Tharpa said.
“In March 2000, they had carved a wooden block from which they printed and distributed leaflets calling for the long life of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama and for Tibetan independence,” he said.
Accused of ‘harming national security’ and ‘spreading negative propaganda,” all six were handed long terms in jail, Tharpa said, adding that Tenzin Choewang and Yeshe Tendzin were later released in poor health.
“They were very weak at the time of their release, and they later died due to the conditions they had suffered in detention.”
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 130 Tibetans 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 Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.