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ACTION: Khenpo Kartse PDF Print E-mail
[20 October 2014] Khenpo Kartse, a senior monk and prominent community leader from Yushu, eastern Tibet, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a secret trial. Full details of the trial are not yet known. Khenpo Kartse was detained on 6 December 2013 on spurious charges of suspicion of "endangering state security". Khenpo is reported to be in serious ill-health and has been denied access to medical treatment and visits by his family.

Take Action Background

[19 July 2016] Renowned Tibetan religious leader Khenpo Kartse has been released from prison after serving his full two and a half year sentence. However, he is not allowed to return to his monastery and remains under close surveillance by the Chinese authorities. Click here to read more.

Tibet Society will continue to monitor Khenpo Kartse's case, but no further action is required at the moment.

[20 October 2014] UPDATE: Khenpo Kartse, a senior monk and prominent community leader from Yushu, eastern Tibet, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a secret trial. According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia the trial took place "two to three months ago in a local court in Chamdo" (located in the eastern region of the Tibet Autonomous Region).

Khenpo Karste in detentionThe same source also said that Khenpo Kartse (pictured right whilst in detention - note Khenpo is handcuffed) had been charged with harbouring a fugitive at his monastery, a monk from Karma monastery in Chamdo, who was wanted in connection with a bombing incident. Khenpo's lawyer is said to have rejected this charge, saying it is "not compatible with reality".

No further details about the trial or Khenpo Kartse's current condition or whereabouts are known. Earlier, a report by Phayul indicated Khenpo Kartse had received a two-year sentence. Information is difficult to obtain due to the Chinese government's censorship of information and blocking of communication channels in Tibet.

However, Radio Free Asia's sources revealed new details about Khenpo's detention. Khenpo Kartse was only allowed to meet his family-appointed lawyer, Tang Tianhao, twice, and then only for short periods of time. Tang was also denied permission to see his client on at least two occasions, before eventually being forced to withdraw from the case after being pressured by the Chinese authorities. The family then appointed a local attorney.

Also confirmed in the report were Khenpo's ill-health and ill-treatment whilst in detention. Known health conditions were untreated, and in March, Khenpo was said to being held in an extremely cold room with no access to sunlight and was being inadequately fed.

Further information:
RFA I Phayul

Read background below

(updated 20 October 2014)
Please write to the Chinese authorities below, with the following points:

Call on the authorities to ensure Karma Tsewang (Khenpo Kartse) is not tortured or ill-treated and that he has access to any required medication and medical treatment;

Ask for assurances that Karma Tsewang has regular access to his lawyer and is allowed regular visits from his family;

► Call on the authorities to disclose where Karma Tsewang is imprisoned and details of his trial including the charges brought against him. Given there are fear that due process was not upheld, call for a re-trial to be held in an open and transparent manner,  in accordance with international judicial norms, otherwise to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Director of Tibet Autonomous Region Public Security Bureau
Li Zhao Tingzhang
Xizang Zizhiqu Gong'anting
26 Linkuodonglu
Lasashi 850000
Xizang Zizhiqu
Peoples Republic of China
Salutation: Dear Director

Director of Qinghai Province Public Security Bureau
Liu Zhiqiang Tingzhang
Qinghaisheng Gong'anting
No. 50 Bayilu
Xiningshi 810007
Peoples Republic of China
Fax: +86 971 829 3290
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Salutation: Dear Director

Send copies to:
Premier Li Keqiang
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie
Beijingshi 100017
Peoples Republic of China
Fax: +86 10 6596 1109
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Chinese Ambassador to the UK
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming
Chinese Embassy
49-51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL.
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Note: China occasionally disables official email addresses (so your email is returned). If that is the case please send a letter. If you receive a reply to your letter or email, please send a copy to Tibet Society, as this helps us to monitor the situation. Click here for Tibet Society contact details.

Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on Khenpo Kartse (Karma Tsewang) and the 16 detained monks on 8 January, prior to the release of the 16 and news of Khenpo Kartse's ill-health. (Click here to see Amnesty's Urgent Action from 8 January).


16 Tibetans detained for urging release of senior monk
16 January 2014] On 21 December 2013, the Chinese authorities detained 16 Tibetans in relation to mass protests calling for the release of Khenpo Kartse, a senior monk from Yushu, eastern Tibet, who was detained earlier in the month on suspicion of endangering state security. Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action on behalf of those detained.

Khenpo KartseOn 6 December, Khenpo Kartse (layname Karma Tsewang)  was detained in Chengdu, Sichuan province by Chinese police for alleged involvement in anti-state activities at Karma monastery in Chamdo (Ch: Changdu or Qamdo) county, Chamdo prefecture, U-Tsang (now incorporated into China's Tibet Autonomous Region). Amnesty International says he was detained for endangering state security. Khenpo Kartse, 38, from Nangchen (Ch: Nangqian) county, Jyekundo (or Yushul, Ch: Yushu) prefecture, Kham (now part of China's Qinghai province), was visiting Chengdu (Sichuan province) to buy a religious statue for his monastery in Nangchen.

Khenpo Kartse is a prominent local religious figure and is actively involved in efforts to promote and protect Tibetan language, culture and religion. He also undertakes social work, and following the devastating earthquake in Jyekundo in 2010 he led a team of monks to help with relief work. (Note: Khenpo is a religious title for a senior religious figure or abbot.)

On 18 December, hundreds of monks and laypeople in Nangchen staged a demonstration calling for the release of Khenpo Kartse. (Some sources report the protest took place on 10 December.) The protestors chanted slogans, carried photos of Khenpo Kartse and held banners, one of which, according to Phayul, read, "Please look at the anguish of students separated from their teacher."

On 21 December, Chinese police arrested 16 Tibetans in Nangchen in relation to the protest. The group is believed to comprise mostly, if not all, of monks. They were taken to the Yushu county detention centre. Their current condition is not known.

According to Amnesty International, Khenpo Kartse and the group of 16 have not been allowed access to lawyers. On 23 December, Khenpo Kartse's lawyer went to visit him but was refused access by the police. Officials have warned the families of those detained not to hire lawyers or they themselves would face detention. Amnesty International also believes those detained are at risk of torture.

A week after the group were detained, a letter purportedly sent from Khenpo Kartse whilst in detention came to light. The letter urged local Tibetans to remain calm and continue with their daily activities. According to Radio Free Asia, the hand-written letter, which could not be verified, said, "I heard that there was recently a clash between police and Tibetans. Please make sure such incidents do not happen again... Please be more broadminded and maintain good relations with the authorities." The letter also stated, I am well and have not been physically harmed... Please assure my relatives they should not worry about me.

On 3 and 5 Janaury, eight Tibetans were detained in Karma township, Chamdo county, where Khenpo Kartse is accused of carrying out anti-state activities. According to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia, the eight were detained for "links to a grassroots campaign aimed at forging unity and enhancing literacy levels among Tibetans". However, it is not clear if the detentions are linked to Khenpo Kartse. Their current status is not known.

Further reading: Tibet Society (20 Dec) I RFA (26 Dec) I RFA (2 Jan)
Phayul (4 Jan) I RFA (6 Jan) I Amnesty (8 Jan)

Khenpo Kartse in ill-health; denied access to lawyer and family
[24 January 2014] According to a Radio Free Asia source, Khenpo Khartse is suffering from an inflamed liver and is in critical condition. The news contradicts a letter that was purportedly sent by Khenpo from prison at the end of December which claimed he was in good health and being well treated.

The source added that Khenpo Kartse's lawyer and relatives have been denied access to see him. Family members recently went to visit Khenpo, taking medicine with them. However they were denied access and had to hand over the medication to officials. It is not known if Khenpo received the medicine.

15 January protestOn 15 January, about 500 Tibetans including 60 monks from Japa monastery held a silent protest (pictured right) outside the Nangchen county detention centre. They were demanding the release of Khenpo Kartse and 16 Tibetans detained following demonstrations on 18 December. The group of 16 has been confirmed as all monks from Khenpo Kartse's Japa monastery in Nangchen, (Chinese: Nangqian) county, Jyekundo (or Yushul, Ch: Yushu) prefecture, Kham (now part of China's Qinghai province).

The 15 January protest ended when the head of the Nangchen Public Security Bureau said the group of 16 would be released and information provided on Khenpo Kartse's case. There have been no reports of detentions or arrests following this latest protest.

Radio Free Asia have reported that all 16 monks have been released, with the last of the group released on 21 January. One of the released monks said that they had been questioned about Khenpo Kartse's means of distributing information about protests and conditions under Chinese rule.

Further reading:
RFA (16 Jan) I ICT (17 Jan)
Amnesty (22 Jan) I RFA (23 Jan)

Khenpo Kartse refused bail; lawyer threatened
[27 June 2014] According to Tibetan sources, Khenpo Kartse has been refused bail and the Chinese authorities have changed the charges against him from endangering state security to "illegal harbouring" and "divulging state secrets".

Khenpo's lawyer was recently allowed brief access to him; only the second occasion they have been allowed to meet since Khenpo's detention. The lawyer, Tang Tianhao, was told about the change in charges and that bail would not be granted as "this was a major case involving stability maintenance". Tang Tianhao was also reportedly threatened by the authorities and warned not to continue with the case.

According to Tang Tianhao, Khenpo is accused of harbouring monks from Karma monastery following the
self-immolation of Tenzin Phuntsok on 1 December 2011. Khenpo is also alleged to have given information about the self-immolation protest to exile sources.

Further information:
ICT (26 June) I Phayul (27 June)

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