By Tenzin Monlam
DHARAMSHALA, August 17: A Tibetan political prisoner sentenced to two-years of imprisonment for possession of Dalai Lama’s photo has been released from a Chinese prison in Qinghai province with ‘restrictions placed on his movements’, reported Radio Free Asia.
The People’s Intermediate Court in the Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province sentenced Gomar Choephel, as he is known because of his native village Gomar, on February 17, 2016 under the charges of possessing a photo of the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and sharing it on social media.
“Gomar was freed from the Ho Min Xian Prison in Qinghai’s Menyuan Hui Autonomous County on or around July 10, and returned to Rongwo Monastery in Rebgong County,” a source inside Tibet told RFA on condition of anonymity.
The 48-year-old monk was detained on July 10, 2015 and had spent over seven months in detention before the sentencing. He was convicted of undermining social stability and of taking actions aimed at splitting the country.
Since his release the monk from Rongwo Monastery has been kept under a tight leash with the authorities imposing restrictions on his movements from the monastery. They also had warned against any welcome reception at the time of his release.
“Chinese authorities warned the monks and relatives in advance not to organize any kind of reception to mark his release,” the source said, “Rongwo monks and his relatives did go to receive him, but they were not allowed to put up any significant reception, including taking photos related to his release and arrival and so on.”
Choephel was born in Gomar Village in Nyenthog Township in Rebkong County in Eastern Tibet. He joined the Thoesam Norling College at Rongwo Monastery at a young age.
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy (TCHRD), the only rights group run by Tibetans, had condemned the arbitrary nature of Choephel’s detention and had called on the Chinese authorities to release him immediately.