By Tenzin Monlam
Shawo Tashi in an undated photo. Photo - TCHRD
DHARAMSHALA, February 23: A Tibetan singer sentenced to five years for his alleged involvement in ‘conspiring with Tibetan self-immolator’ has been released last month from a Chinese prison in Siling city, capital of Qinghai Province.
According to a report of Radio Free Asia, Shawo was released on January 3 after completing his sentence. However, his current physical condition is still unknown.
The 44-year-old singer was arbitrary detained in November 2012 in Dowa Township in Rebkong County in Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and was secretly sentenced to five years in 2013 for his alleged involvement with self-immolations happening in region.
He was charged with ‘distributing photographs of self-immolation protesters; writing last notes left by self-immolators on these photographs; participating in protest against Chinese government and singing patriotic Tibetan songs’, a source told Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) following his sentencing.
On 8 November 2012, Tibetan school children in Dowa Township took down the Chinese flags from their school building and the Township government office building. Thousands of students held a peaceful protest against the alarming official apathy towards rising numbers of self-immolation protests in Rebkong town the following day.
The Chinese police also arrested him during a delayed crackdown on Tibetans involved with the protest.
With many under hits under his belt including one of his most popular, ‘Father in Distant Land’ (Tib: Gyang Ring Ghi Phalo), the singer was known for his love and respect for Tibetan culture, language and his keen interest in traditional Tibetan music since his childhood.
“He had sung many songs celebrating Tibetan identity and culture, and his songs are popular among local Tibetans,” a source told the Dharamshala-based Tibetan human rights organization.
As many as 11 Tibetan singers have been jailed in Tibet since 2012 and regarded as ‘separatists’. Tibetan singer Trinley Tsekar was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Chinese court in November 2013. Lolo, Chakdor, Pema Trinley and Kalsang Yarphel were also arrested in 2013, while Ugyen Tashi, Achok Phulsung and Choksal were detained a year earlier.