Tibetan writer missing more than a year after his arrest

Popular writer and poet Gendun Lhundrub was forced into a car by police in December 2020.
By Sangyal Kunchok
Tibetan writer missing more than a year after his arrest Tibetan writer and poet Gendun Lhundrub is shown in an undated photo.
Photo from Tibet

Popular Tibetan writer and poet Gendun Lhundrub is incommunicado more than a year after his arrest in western China’s Qinghai province, with family members still in the dark as to his whereabouts or current condition, Tibetan sources say.

Lhundrub, aged around 46 and formerly a monk at Rongwo monastery in Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) county in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, had been monitored by authorities for signs of political dissent over a long period of time before being detained, A Tibetan living in exile told RFA.

“It has now been more than a year after his arrest, and very little is known about his condition or the official reason for his arrest,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect his contacts in the Rebgong area.

Lhundrub was arrested on Dec. 2, 2020, while on his way to attend a religious debate held in Rebgong, the source said, adding, “The event was witnessed only by a vegetable seller who saw him put into a black car by Chinese police, and no one else has any information about his arrest.”

“Though his family was informed by phone on Sept. 27, 2021, that Gendun Lhundrub’s trial date would be set soon, there has been no follow-up about this, and we have heard that he is being forced to undergo political re-education.”

Ordered by authorities to help translate Tibetan Buddhist texts into Mandarin Chinese, Lhundrub may have questioned the need to do this, leading to open disagreement, “and he was arrested only a few days after voicing his objections,” the source said.

“Many Tibetan scholars and writers promoting Tibetan identity become the targets of the Chinese government, and most of them are eventually detained,” said Pema Gyal, a researcher at the London-based rights group Tibet Watch.

“The Chinese government believes that suppressing Tibetan scholars and writers will help to eradicate Tibet’s identity, so Chinese bilingual education policies and the translation of Tibetan Buddhist texts into Chinese are all part of this larger agenda,” Gyal said.

Formerly an independent Himalayan nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force in 1950.

Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses typically deemed “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, sources say.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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