Chinese authorities have arrested several Tibetans from Karze, in the traditional Kham province of Tibet, incorporated in China’s Sichuan province for celebrating the 86th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tibet earlier this month.
A man named Kunchok Tashi and a woman named Dzapo, both in their 40s, were taken into custody in Karze (ch: Ganzi), Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Kyaglung town, according to Golog Jigme, a former Tibetan political prisoner.
The pair were arrested for being a member of a social media group that shared pictures, videos and encouraged others to recite prayers on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday. Except for the news of the arrest, no further information is available.
The source further added, “20 or 30 more Tibetans were suspected to have been arrested some time around the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Very little is known about the arrest of this group of Tibetans because of the communication clampdown and strict surveillance put in place by the Chinese officials.”
Tibetans sentenced for celebrating 80th birthday in 2016
China claims that Tibetans enjoy freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief in Tibet but the Chinese government has steadfastly maintained a complete crackdown on any expression of reverence to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and even possession of his picture is criminalised.
In 2016, Tibetans around the world grandly celebrated the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Celebrations were marked in Tibet as well, one in Ngaba resulted in 10 Tibetans being sentenced. On 6 December 2016, the Intermediate Peoples’ Court in Barkham, Ngaba prefecture sentenced 10 Tibetans, both monks and laypeople, to varying terms of five to 14 years in prison for taking part in a celebration of His Holiness turning 80: Drukdra, 50-year-old Kirti monk was sentenced to 14 years; Lobsang Khedrup, 44-year-old Kirti monk was sentenced to 13 years; Losang Gepel, 29-year-old Kirti monk was sentenced to 12 years; Lodro, 41-year-old Kirti monk was sentenced to 9 years; Bonko Kyi, 48-year-old resident of Lhade Gabma was sentenced to 7 years; Tsultrim of Dowa village in Trotsik area of Ngaba was sentenced to 6 years; and Akyakya (Ajaja), 35, was sentenced to 5 years.
In 2013, at a local gathering in Tawu region of eastern Tibet to pray and celebrate the 78th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, more than a dozen Tibetans were shot by Chinese authorities when the authorities opened fire on unarmed Tibetans.
– Filed by UN, EU and Human Rights Desk/DIIR