News and Views on Tibet

UN experts demand information on three Tibetan prisoners

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Writer Dhi Lhaden (L), Teacher Rinchen Kyi (C) and Singer Lhundrup Drakpa (R) (Photo/Tibet Times)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, April 20: A group of six UN experts in a joint communiqué sent to China in February, made available to the public recently, urged Beijing to make clear the whereabouts and condition of the three Tibetans who were arrested and whose fate remain unknown. Writer Lobsang Lhundrup (Pen name: Dhi Lhaden), musician Lhundrup Drakpa, and teacher Rinchen Kyi were arbitrarily detained for expressing their opinions on the policies enforced by the Chinese government. The expert group demanded clear communication on their health, whereabouts, and the legal status of each individual case.

“Without expressing at this stage an opinion on the facts of this case and on whether the arrest and detention of Mr. Lobsang Lhundup, Mr. Lhundrup Drakpa and Ms. Rinchen Kyi are arbitrary or not, we would like to appeal to your Excellency’s Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee their right not to be deprived arbitrarily of liberty and to fair proceedings before an independent and impartial tribunal, in accordance with articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the joint letter said, adding that this appeal is mainly to ascertain the rights of concerned individuals and to safeguarded them from harm.

Writer Dhi Lhaden, 50, who is from the Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture has published several books and writings deemed critical of the Chinese rule in Tibet. Words Uttered with Risk of Life (“Tsetsok la Trun Pe Kecha”) in 2011 and The Art of Passive Resistance (“Tungol Trimtug”) are the two books he wrote which critiques the workings of the government. He was arrested in June 2019 when he worked at a private education centre in Chengdu for “creating disorder among the public”. He was then subsequently sentenced to four years in prison from June 2021.

Lhundrup Drakpa, 38, who is a popular musician and singer from Driru County in Nagchu met with similar fate. He was arrested for his song “Black Hat” which contained lyrics critical of Chinese government policies. Lhundrup’s songs are assertive of the Tibetan identity and its traditions. The singer spent his pre-trial detention in prison for more than a year without access to any legal representation, and was eventually sentenced to six years in prison from June 2020.

Rinchen Kyi, a teacher from Sengdruk Taktse middle school in Darlak County of Golog prefecture, was also arbitrarily arrested. The middle school teacher was disturbed by the abrupt closure of her school and eventually lost her appetite. The Chinese officials took her to a Xining hospital for treatment and was later transferred to an undisclosed location. The authorities detained her on the charges of “inciting separatism” in August last year.

These three individual cases asserting the preservation of Tibetan culture, the report said, are crucial to investigate as it sets the precedent for future arrests based on lack of freedom of expression. “We also express serious concern about what is reported as a trend of repressive actions, including arrests and prolonged detention, some in incommunicado situations, against a larger number of Tibetans engaged in the promotion of the Tibetan culture, including through education, or who are critical of the Chinese rule in Tibet,” the strongly worded appeal further stated.

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