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Leading Tibetan Writer, Performer, Producer Arrested
RFA[Wednesday, April 16, 2008 10:38]
Jamyang Kyi during a tour of the United States in 2006. Photo: RFA
Jamyang Kyi during a tour of the United States in 2006. Photo: RFA
KATHMANDU — Chinese authorities in Tibet have arrested a leading Tibetan writer, television producer, and performer in the midst of a major crackdown on anti-Chinese protests in the region.

Plainclothes state security officers escorted Jamyang Kyi, who has travelled widely and performed and lectured in the United States, from her office at state-owned Qinghai TV on April 1, an authoritative source told RFA’s Tibetan service. "She never returned," a source in Siling [in Chinese, Xining] said. "People were speculating that she was detained in a guesthouse for interrogation."

Another authoritative source in Beijing said she had been formally arrested by the Xining Public Security Bureau, although the charges against her were unknown. In China, a formal arrest almost always precedes a conviction. "Security people went to Jamyang Kyi's house to search her computer, her mailing list, and contact numbers and took all these away," another source in Xining said.

Television producer, musician, activist, blogger

Jamyang Kyi, in her 40s, has worked as a producer in the Tibetan-language section of state-run Qinghai TV for two decades. She is well-known among Tibetans as an activist on women’s issues, and she toured the United States to sing and lecture in 2006.

Her blog is popular among young, computer-savvy Tibetans, although she stopped updating it several months before anti-Chinese protests erupted in Lhasa in mid-March and then spread to other regions.

Born in Mangra county [in Chinese, Guinan], in remote northwestern Qinghai province, Kyi is also a singer and songwriter and has released several well-received albums: "Prayer," a music CD, and two video CDs, "Distant Lover" and "Karma." Her music comprises elements of both modern pop and traditional folk music from all areas of Tibet.

Jamyang Kyi hasn’t been detained in the past, according to Tibet experts, and the specific reason for her arrest this month is unclear.

But in the wake of the largest and most violent anti-Chinese protests in Tibet in almost 50 years, authorities are questioning numerous Tibetans from the Kham, Amdo, and Lhasa regions who have travelled internationally in recent years, Tibetan sources say.

Past controversy

And Qinghai TV has seen controversy in the past. After the Dalai Lama urged Tibetans to abandon the practice of wearing fur in 2006, Chinese authorities ordered Tibetan-language Qinghai TV broadcasters to add fur trimmings to their traditional clothing—in what residents described as a transparent jab at the exiled leader.

Che Xizhen, head of the Qinghai provincial propaganda department, and Rinchen Gyal, head of the provincial Communist Party’s ideology-focused United Front Work Department, visited Qinghai TV and announced that Tibetan-language broadcasters must wear fur-lined traditional Tibetan clothing.

" ' This is a matter of politics and as such, you all will have to add fur trimmings. If you don’t have furs, then you’ll have to buy furs and we’ll allocate you funding for that, ' " the officials told broadcasters, according to a Tibetan source.

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.
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