Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have released a popular Tibetan singer sentenced to four years in prison for his role in Lhasa-area concerts encouraging people to speak Tibetan and unite among themselves, a source in Tibet said.
Kalsang Yarphel, aged about 42, was released on July 10 after serving his full term in prison. Yarphel’s year spent in detention before his November 2014 trial was counted as a part of his term.
“When he was released, his family and friends welcomed and greeted him warmly with offerings of khata [ceremonial scarves]. But his current health condition is unknown,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Accused of organizing concerts called Khawai Metok, or Snow Flower, in 2012, Yarphel was detained on June 14, 2013 in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa and held for over a year, a former political prisoner named Lhamo Kyab told RFA in an earlier report.
The songs Yarphel sang were deemed subversive by Chinese authorities, who questioned the singer several times before finally detaining him, Kyab said. The singer was later given a four- year sentence by a court in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
Popular since childhood for his beautiful singing voice, Yarphel had performed at concerts held both by the government and by private organizations.
According to the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, DVD recordings of the Khawai Metok concerts were widely distributed in Tibetan-populated areas of China, despite being banned by Chinese authorities at the time.
Yarphel’s arrest came amidst a national crackdown on public assertions of Tibetan national and cultural identity. China has jailed many Tibetan writers, artists, singers and educators for work considered politically sensitive since widespread protests erupted in Tibetan-populated areas of China in 2008.
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Lillian Andemicael.