Tibetan Youth is Freed After Being Held For 'Politically Sensitive' Photos

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tibet-topgyal-crop.jpg Tobgyal, in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Chinese authorities in Tibet have freed a Tibetan youth without explanation after detaining him for almost three weeks following the discovery of politically sensitive photos on his cell phone, sources said.

Tobgyal, aged about 23, was taken into custody by police in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa on Dec. 26 while working at a construction site, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

On Jan. 12, he was handed over to authorities in his native Dingri county in Tibet’s Shigatse (in Chinese, Rikaze) prefecture and released the next day, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He cannot travel now outside his town, and was specifically told that he is forbidden from going to Shigatse city or to Lhasa,” the source said.

“He also cannot contact anyone outside his area,” the source said.

“If he does, he could be detained again,” he added.

'Crossed a line'

A native of Dingri’s Traktse town, Tobgyal was not told at the time of his detention why he was being held, RFA’s source said.

“But when he was released, the police explained that a photo of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama had been found on his phone along with other politically sensitive images.”

He had also forwarded politically sensitive writings from his phone, and was blamed for making contacts in Nepal and other places outside Tibet through the social media platform WeChat, the source said.

“All these activities were said to have ‘crossed a line,’” he said.

Chinese authorities have stepped up curbs on information flows in Tibetan-populated regions amid continuing self-immolations and other protests challenging Beijing’s rule in these areas.

To date, 136 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to oppose China’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

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


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