Tibetan Singer Detained

His songs spoke of support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people.

Choksal, in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of RFA listener.

A popular Tibetan singer has been detained by Chinese authorities, apparently because of politically sensitive lyrics in his songs, according to a family member.

Choksal, a resident of Driru county in the Tibet Autonomous Region, was taken into custody on July 29 in the Qinghai provincial capital Xining by Chinese police, who told him he was wanted by authorities in Driru and in Lhasa, the singer’s cousin told RFA. His whereabouts are unknown.

“He had earlier released four albums of songs,” Choksal’s cousin said, speaking from India.

“His first album, released in 2008-2009 and titled 'Tibetan Dreams,' contained songs praising [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama and speaking with pride of the Tibetan people.”

A second album, titled “Brotherly Responsibility,” included a song about the Dalai Lama’s presence in India, Choksal’s cousin said.

“The Tibetan public liked him because he sang songs about the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, but the Chinese started watching his every move. Chinese security personnel banned him from singing in public and confiscated his albums from Tibetan stores in Lhasa and Driru,” his cousin said.

Choksal’s cousin added that at the Tibetan New Year, when Choksal called one shop owner in Lhasa about a week after placing his albums there for sale, the owner sounded “panicky” and asked him not to call again, he said.

In June, Chinese authorities disrupted a DVD screening of Choksal’s fourth album, “Child of Snow,” and fined the owner of the restaurant where the screening was held, Choksal’s cousin said.

He had been preparing to release a new album, “Spirit of Snow,” in cooperation with other Tibetan singers just before he was detained.

Following Choksal’s detention on July 29 from an Internet café in Xining, local authorities most likely transferred him to the custody of police in Lhasa or Driru, his cousin said, adding, “His family members have searched for him everywhere, but they have no information on him.”

China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan cultural and national identity since widespread protests swept through Tibet and the Tibetan-populated provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu in 2008.

Buddhist monks and nuns, often in the forefront of protests challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, have also been jailed in large numbers.

Reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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