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Tibetan woman dies demanding whereabouts of her ‘disappeared’ brother

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DHARAMSHALA, March 22: A Tibetan women in Zatoe, Yulshul, died in a hospital after she fell unconscious at a Chinese security office demanding the whereabouts of her brother last Thursday.

Dharamshala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in a release yesterday said the woman died in a hospital where she was brought after she fell unconscious in the county Public Security Bureau office.

She had been approaching the PSB office a number of times enquiring and urging the officials to disclose information about her brother Khenpo Gyewala, a highly-respected scholar and abbot of Gyegyel Zogchen Monastery.

“However, the PSB office repeatedly refused to provide any information forcing the sister to shout at the officials. The ensuing moments saw the sister apparently suffering emotional shock, sources said, as she lost consciousness and fell down in the PSB office,” the release said.

Khenpo Gyewala, 44, went missing on March 8, weeks after his release from Chinese detention on February 10.

Concerned about the growing illiteracy among Tibetan children in the region, Khenpo had founded the Monsel School which offers classes in Tibetan language and grammar, Buddhism and cultural values every winter when government schools in the region are closed for vacation.

The school had some 800 students in attendance; mostly local children in the nomadic area and children of newly resettled Tibetan nomads in Zatoe County, according to TCHRD.

Khenpo Gyewala and a number other fellow teachers of the Monsel school were initially detained on February 10, following a government order to ban Dechen Shingdrup, a famed local religious festival presided over by all the major religious personalities in the region.

They were released the same day in the evening after hundreds of Monsel students approached the PSB office and demanded their release.

However, on March 8, Khenpo Gyewala and about 13 others, who had worked closely with him, “disappeared.”

Local Tibetans believe that Khenpo was most likely arrested by the local PSB officers during a night time raid.

Other known “disappeared” Tibetans include, Apho, 47, a monk at Tashi Lhabug Monastery; Tsering Dhundup, 32, a former county government official; and Rhagpa, a teacher at Monsel School.

Chinese authorities view assertions of Tibetan identity as a threat to its rule over Tibet and have increasingly placed restrictions on Tibetan literary, religious, and cultural festivals and meetings.

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