DHARAMSHALA: Chinese police detained Tswang Choephel, a Tibetan monk from Nyitso monastery in Tawu county, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (incorporated into China’s Sichuan Province) at around 10:30 am on 18 May, media reports say.
Chinese authorities have not disclosed the reason for the monk’s detention. However, local Tibetans believe the detention could be linked to the Chinese authorities’ suspicion that Choephel was involved in Ven. Kelsang Yeshi’s self-immolation protest against the Chinese government in December last year.
During the self-immolation, Choephel has stopped the Chinese policemen from seizing Ven. Kelsang Yeshi’s body. He had also participated in the subsequent protest against the Chinese government in the aftermath of the self-immolation.
“At the time, he displayed his dislike of the police and helped prevent them from taking [Yeshe’s] body away, which may have brought him to the attention of the authorities.” a source told a Tibetan radio service.
After his detention, monks from Choephel’s monastery rallied to the local police station and staged a peaceful protest, demanding his immediate release from detention. However, Chinese authorities refused to release him.
Tsewang Choephel is known for his deep commitment towards preserving Tibetan language and heritage among his peers.