By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, July 21: The Chinese authorities reportedly arrested four Tibetans after they confiscated their phones to search for photos of the Dalai Lama and checked for records with exiled Tibetans through mobile phones, according to the Tibet Watch. The report published Tuesday said that on July 4, the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in Dartsang Township in Serthar County used records of identity cards and linked phone numbers kept at the local department.
The report revealed that the four detainees include a local village leader, under suspicion of possessing material deemed politically sensitive. The Dharamshala-based organization does not have the names of the detainees and details of their whereabouts as of now. “They were arrested under suspicion for keeping the Dalai Lama’s photos in their mobile phones. In fact, they did nothing criminal and their family members are not losing hopes and waiting for them to be released soon,” a source confirmed on the condition of anonymity.
Three uniformed police officers from the PSB entered Jangchup Gayphel monastery in Dartsang Township and conducted the search operation in the prayer hall. The officers reportedly confiscated the portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the altar and summoned all of the concerned heads to the police station for further interrogation. As the Tibetans community celebrated Dalai Lama’s 86th birthday, the restrictions may have been heightened around July 6.
These arrests have been frequent in the wake of CCP’s centenary celebrations in July as authorities in Serthar County “prohibited any civil gatherings/ festivals or monastic prayers and religious events” except for official events. Six prominent Tibetans were arrested in April from Serthar County including Gangkye Drupa Kyab, a writer and vocal critic of the Chinese Communist Party, who worked as a teacher in Dartsang before moving to Drango County.