Popular Tibetan Writer Detained

The move comes amid tensions on the back of self-immolations and protests against Chinese rule.

An undated photo of Gangkye Drubpa Kyab.
Photo courtesy of Woeser.

A popular Tibetan writer has been detained by Chinese authorities in a county rocked by bloody protests in southwestern Sichuan province, writers and exile sources said Saturday.

A team of 20 police officers went to the residence of Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, 33, in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county just before midnight on Feb. 15 and took him away, according to Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser.

"His present condition and place of detention is unknown," she told RFA.

The detention came amid tensions in Tibetan-populated areas in Chinese provinces on the back of self-immolations and protests against Chinese rule and the arrest of scores, if not hundreds, of Tibetans.

Serthar was among three counties in Sichuan province where Tibetans protested in late January and in which rights and exile groups believe at least six were killed and 60 injured, some critically.

The protest in Serthar was sparked by posters calling for more self-immolations and cautioning Tibetans not to allow the bodies of those who set themselves ablaze to be taken away by Chinese security forces, sources had said.

Popular writings

Drubpa Kyab was a "well known" writer among Tibetans, Woeser said. Among his popular compositions were "Call of Fate," "Pain of This Era" and "Today’s Tear of Pain."

He had worked as a teacher in Serthar for almost a decade.

His wife, Wangchuk Lhamo, challenged the police team to show legal documents for detaining him and conducting a search on their home "but they had nothing to show,” an exile source with contacts in Serthar told RFA.

“The Chinese police team searched his house but found nothing incriminating," the source said.

The police team was led by the head of the Serthar police station and the local secret service chief, the source said.

Another detention

Drubpa Kyab's detention comes two weeks after a popular advocate of Tibet’s traditional culture and language was believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities.

Dawa Dorje, in his late 20's and a government researcher in Nagchu (in Chinese, Naqu) prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region, was believed detained after expressing concern over the closure of Tibetan monasteries, sources said.

His family had not heard from him since he returned to Tibet after organizing a conference promoting Tibetan culture in protest-hit Sichuan but his friends believe Chinese authorities have detained him.

Writers, singers, and artists promoting Tibetan national identity and culture have frequently been detained by Chinese authorities, with many handed long jail terms, following region-wide protests against Chinese rule that swept Tibetan areas in 2008.

Reported by Lobsang Chophel, Guru Choegyi and Chakmo Tso for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.


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