News and Views on Tibet

Rights group condemns noted Tibetan writer’s four-year prison sentence

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Dhi Lhaden in an undated photo (Photo/TCHRD)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 30: The Dharamshala-based human rights group has condemned the recent sentencing of the Tibetan writer Thupten Lobsang Lhundup, famously known by his pen name Dhi Lhaden, to four years of prison in Tibet. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) based here called on the Chinese authorities to immediately release Lhaden who had been sentenced on charges of “disrupting social order”.

The TCHRD report argued that the “charge of ‘disrupting social order’ is a catchall term employed by the party-state to silence dissent and preserve the culture of censorship.” Dhi Lhaden was sentenced to prison recently on an unknown date at a court trial where his family members were reportedly not present. The authorities had informed his family about the upcoming trial last December, but his family members have not seen him since his detention.

The sentencing has come after two years of incommunicado detention in June 2019 where he was arrested in Chengdu city. A former monk in Drepung and Sera monasteries in Lhasa, Lhaden has authored books and essays criticizing the policies laid out by the Chinese government. The report argued that authorities have repeatedly used vague legal vocabulary to fix limited freedom of expression in the Chinese Constitution.

Lhaden was an intellectual and writer based in Golog, Tibet. Lhaden had studied in different monastic institutions from the age of 11. He also studied at eastern Tibet’s Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy, where thousands of resident monks and nuns were evicted by Chinese authorities. The group further urged the Chinese authorities to relay information on his whereabouts and guarantee his “physical and psychological integrity” immediately. His book “The Art of Passive Resistance”, translated in English by TCHRD, was reportedly used as evidence to charge him of “disrupting social order”.

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