By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, July 15: The Chinese officials have reportedly arrested two Tibetans for celebrating their spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s 86th birthday this month in Sichuan region, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA). The pair, a man named Kunchok Tashi and a woman named Dzapo, was taken into police custody in Kyaglung town of Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Golog Jigme, a former political prisoner now residing in Switzerland, has confirmed the arrests by citing sources in the region, “They were arrested on suspicion of being part of a group on social media that shared images and documents, and encouraged the reciting of Tibetan prayers on the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.” There are no more details of the present whereabouts of the pair.
According to the source, close to 20 or 30 Tibetans have been arrested this year for celebrating the 6th July birthday but couldn’t locate the names or places of such arrests. “Due to strict restrictions on communications in the region, nothing more is known about their names or where [they were arrested] . . . However, they were all arrested sometime around His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s birthday,” he further said. These arrests mostly result from growing online surveillance where the detainees are caught on the charges of sharing Dalai Lama’s photos, publicly celebrating or sharing His Holiness’ teachings on different social media sites.
The Chinese government remains sensitive towards any display of respect to the Dalai Lama whom they regard as a “separatist”. Reports of Chinese military interrupting a Ladakhi celebration of the Buddhist leader also surfaced in a week after 6th July celebrations. Chinese troops carrying banners came along the LAC at Dalocamgo, Demchok and objected to the ongoing celebration by the locals.
“The locals told me that PLA troops came along the LAC early morning in two to three vehicles. They were carrying banners too on which it was written that celebrations should be stopped. PLA troops also shouted at the locals and asked them to move back from LAC. However, due to the strong presence of the Indian army, locals stayed there and celebrations were completed,” Ishey Spalzang, Councilor of Nyoma constituency, told Outlook India.