By Tenzin Sangmo
DHARAMSHALA, April 30: Three Tibetans were arrested and detained yesterday from Sershul county in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture after a Tibetan named Wangchen was charged for praying for the release of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and for his reunification with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Tibet.
On Monday, Wangchen is known to have climbed the mountain behind the Sershul monastery where he burned incense and raised lungta prayer flags.
Once he got back, the local Chinese police arrested Wangchen, his friends Lobsang, Younten and a fourth Tibetan man at the monastery around 10:30 am.
Their phones were seized, and they are currently in police custody. The fourth man was later released.
According to the source, yesterday marked the week-long cleaning drive the local Tibetans had started a few years ago around the birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama.
It was learned this morning that the local police prevented the family members from visiting the detainees and were told that the three will be sentenced in 15 days’ time.
The source further told exile media that 20-year-old Wangchen is a permanent resident of the region whose father passed away when he was three. With his mother, a road construction worker and two sisters, he never had the opportunity to attend school.
Wangchen is a famous jockey known to have taken part in horse racing competitions across Sershul, Zatoe, Golok and Kegudo regions. The two other friends arrested are also fellow jockeys.
April 25th this year marked the 30th birthday of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima who was disappeared by the Chinese on May 17, 1995, at the age of six, three days after he was recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Since then, China has installed its own Panchen Lama and refuses to divulge information on the whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama.