By Tenzin Zompa
Dharamshala, June 12: A Tibetan political prisoner’s mother and family members have been harassed by Chinese government officials who demanded return to Tibet of their son who left for India in 2000.
Tibetan political prisoner Tenzin Woeser’s mother, Monlam Kyi, 69 is suffering from a heart condition and is being interrogated and threatened for not disclosing information and whereabouts of their son.
In 1997, Tenzin Woeser, then a 14-year-old monk, was imprisoned for publishing pamphlets demanding human rights and freedom in Tibet. As minors, they were subjected to re-education and their sentence was reduced from 5 years to 6 months.
Tenzin Woeser told the Voice of America, “After the 6 months’ imprisonment I was restricted from going to schools and monasteries. The officials also warned me of harsher punishment when I became 18 years old and told me to visit the respective police station every month to list attendance”.
As a consequence of Woeser’s peaceful protest, his mother Monlam Kyi who currently lives in Amdo Golok Pema Zong of Eastern Tibet has been facing intensive interrogation and harrasment. From 23rd May to 6th June the police forcefully held the 69-year-old mother in detention and demanded reasons for her son’s disappearance.
His family in Tibet consists of his mother and his five sisters. The husband of one of the sisters who works as a nurse at a government hospital, has been fired from his job at a mining company. The Chinese officials have also revoked his mother’s yearly pension and their ration card. The authorities have also seized all their communication devices to restrict them from contacting other people.
Woeser fled Tibet and arrived in India in 2000. He studied at TCV Suja and went to Shri Mahant Public School in Dehradun. He now works as a staff at the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Selakui, Dehradun in northern India.
In an interview with the VOA, Tenzin Woeser said he is shocked at hearing about the Chinese government’s reinvestigation of his detention case. He said he now fears for the safety of his family back in Tibet and especially his mother who is an elderly person with a heart problem. He recalled how his single-mother went through a tough time working extremely hard to feed him and his sisters as their late father passed away when they were very young.
The Chinese authorities bringing to the surface some extremely old incident of police detention of a former political prisoner has raised many questions among the Tibetans. Tsering Tsomo from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) when asked about the legality of the case of reprisal against a former political prisoner said that the very detention of Tenzin Woeser in 1997 has to be questioned first. “Tenzin Woeser was put into jail for exercising his basic rights and freedom. He was imprisoned for demanding freedom in his country. The very concept of infinite detention without trial has complimented the Chinese authority to punish Tibetans without significant reasons,” said Tsering.