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Jailed for conducting funeral; arrested for promoting culture PDF Print E-mail
[20 December 2013] News continues to filter out of Tibet about imprisonments, arrests and detentions, despite China's security crackdown and blocking of communication channels. A monk has been jailed for conducting traditional rituals for deceased self-immolators; nine Tibetans have been arrested in the wake of a self-immolation; two senior monks have been detained for promoting Tibetan culture and traditions; and, nine Tibetans have been detained for planning a protest.

1. Monk jailed for conducting funerals for self-immolators
2. Nine arrested following self-immolation
3. Two senior monks detained for promoting Tibetan traditions
4. Nine detained for planning protest against sacred stone theft

1. Monk jailed for conducting funerals for self-immolators

Hortsang TamdinA Tibetan monk has been sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment for conducting prayers and traditional rituals for deceased self-immolators.

Hortsang Tamdin (pictured right) was sentenced on 29 October on charges of conducting "separatist activities". A Chinese court in Dzamthang county (Chinese: Zamtang) county, Ngaba (Ch: Aba) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province), sentenced Tamdin to four and a half years in prison and an additional two years' deprivation of political rights.

A source told Tibet Post international that Tamdin was jailed
for allegedly leading public prayers in Dzamthang for the self-immolator and allegedly praising the uniting among the Tibetans in the traditional provinces of Tibet. The source added that Tamdin was accused of promoting Tibetan independence.

According to the Tibet Express, Tamdin had previously publicly praised self-immolators as outstanding sons and daughters of the land of snows.

Hortsang Tamdin was initially arrested on 24 April during a traditional prayer festival at Jonang (or Tsangpa) monastery, where he is the discipline master. Jonang monastery, located in Dzamthang county, is one of the largest monasteries in the region with approximately 2000 monks. Tamdin is a writer and formed a charity to help poor and sick Tibetans in the region.

Further reading: Tibet Post I Tibet Express I Phayul

2. Nine arrested following self-immolation

Nine Tibetans have been arrested following Tsering Gyal's self-immolation on 11 November. Amongst those arrested are five monks from the same monastery as Tsering Gyal.

Tsering GyalIn November, seven Tibetans, including three monks, were arrested for their links with Tsering Gyal (pictured right). The monks are from Akyong monastery, Pema (Chinese: Baima) county, Golog (Ch: Guoluo) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province). The identities of those arrested are not known.

On 9 December, monks Dhelo Kyab and Choepa Kyab, were arrested following a raid on Akyong monastery. The reason for their arrest is not known but is suspected to be linked to the self-immolation of fellow monk Tsering Gyal, who died after his protest on 11 November.

No further details are available about those arrested, including their whereabouts and condition, due to China's security crackdown including the blocking of communication channels to Tibetan regions.

Since Tsering Gyal's self-immolation, security in the region has been tightened. According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, there are restrictions on movement and searches taking place at gunpoint. Also, Tibetans have not been allowed to visit Tsering Gyal's family home to pay condolences.

The source said there were roadblocks across the county. Groups of 15 Chinese armed paramilitary police are stationed at every turn of the road in the county, and are thoroughly searching Tibetan travellers," said the source, adding,
The police at one checkpoint then contact police at the next checkpoint to let them know the Tibetans are coming their way, in order to hand them over."

Further reading: RFA (22 Nov) I RFA (24 Nov) I Phayul (24 Nov) I Phayul (17 Dec)
Tibet Society: Tsering Gyal's self-immolation (12 Nov)

3. Two senior monks detained for promoting Tibetan traditions

The Chinese authorities have detained two senior religious leaders in eastern Tibet on suspicion of promoting Tibetan identity and Tibetan religious and cultural traditions.

The arrested men are Gyurme Tsultrim and Kartse, both well-respected and popular abbots from monasteries in Nangchen (Ch: Nangqian) county, Jyekundo (Ch: Yushu) prefecture, Kham (now part of China's Qinghai province).

Gyurme Tsultrim, from Takna monastery, was detained on 29 November. Though the exact reason for his arrest is not known, it is suspected to be linked to a speech he gave during a prayer festival where he promoted Tibetan Buddhism, religion and moral ethics.

KartseKartse (pictured right), from Shabgon monastery, was detained on 6 December whilst in Chengdu. Kartse's arrest is thought to be related to connections he has with Karma monastery in Chamdo, Tibet Autonomous Region, where there have been protests.

In both cases there were public outcries calling for their release. About 4,000 Tibetans signed a petition threatening to protest unless Kartse was released. Some reports indicate a protest took place, but this is unclear. However, protests are understood to have taken place outside local government buildings calling for the release of Gyurme Tsultrim.

Initial reports indicated both abbots had been released following the public pressure. However, on 17 December, Radio Free Asia reported that contrary to first reports, the two men were still being held in police custody.

China's ongoing security crackdown in Tibet, which includes the blocking of communication channels, makes it difficult to get verifiable news from Tibetan regions, hence information is often sporadic and incomplete.

Further reading: RFA (17 Dec) I CTA (12 Dec) I Phayul (12 Dec)

4. Nine detained for planning protest against sacred stone theft

In November, nine Tibetans were detained in eastern Tibet after authorities discovered plans for a protest against the removal of sacred stones by Chinese officials.

Several hundred Tibetans in Terlung township were planning a protest on 23 November following the removal of sacred stones from Khanmar monastery. Terlung is located in Palyul (Ch: Baiyu) county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into Sichuan province).

According to local residents, Chinese officials from township and county levels were behind the "theft" of a truck full of stones. Residents planned to march to the county headquarters after requests to return the stones had been ignored. However, the protest never took place as hundreds of security forces were sent to Terlung once the authorities discovered the plans.

Four monks and five laypeople, including local community leaders, were arrested on 22 November. All nine were taken to the Palyul detention centre, and their families have been refused any contact. Their current condition is not known. The monastery and the town have been placed under lockdown with both surrounded by security forces.

In October, the arrest of Kelsang Chodar triggered a protest in Palyul by over 400 Tibetans. Kelsang, who had been arrested on suspicion of spreading information about protests, was later released.

Further reading: Phayul (29 Nov) I RFA (30 Nov)

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