By Tenzin Dharpo
Woechung Gyatso during a workshop on cyber security, TCHRD photo
DHARAMSHALA, April 19: Two Tibetan monks have been detained by Chinese authorities for sharing what is deemed "illegal content online" on Monday, in Tsang Monastery in Ba Dzong or Gepasumdo County in Tsolho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.
Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) on Wednesday said that the County Public Security Bureau officers arbitrarily arrested Woechung Gyatso and another unidentified monk on 16 April. Woechung Gyatso is still being held at an undisclosed location, while the other monk is believed to have been released after severe interrogation, TCHRD added.
The two monks were detained after a workshop conducted by Chinese authorities on cybersecurity at the monastery back in March. The workshop, the rights group said, was held under the guise of ‘legal education’ program during which all monks were given instructions on the newly implemented Cybersecurity Law and warned of severe consequences in case of violations.
“An investigation launched alongside the workshop resulted in several monks including Woechung Gyatso writing forced confession letters against posting and sharing illegal contents online,” TCHRD stated.
The rights group said that china’s cybersecurity laws are being used as a tool to subject Tibetans to vague charges thereby denying them the right to expression online. “The Cybersecurity law violates individual’s right to freedom of expression, opinion and information. Using vague and overbroad charges such as ‘leaking state secrets’ and ‘inciting separatism’, Tibetans are subjected to arbitrary arrests, detention and torture for exercising their right to freedom of expression on the internet,” TCHRD said.