News and Views on Tibet

Tibetan poet arrested for possessing photograph of Dalai Lama

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Tenzin Khenrab in an undated photo (Photo/Tibet Times)

By Tsering Dhundup

DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 15: A young Tibetan monk, Tenzin Khenrab, also known by his pen name Dhong Rangchak, was reportedly arrested by the Chinese government. The poet was apprehended a year ago in 2023 for allegedly possessing a photograph of His Holiness the 14 Dalai Lama on his mobile phone.

According to reports from Tibet Times, the whereabouts and health status of Tenzin Khenrab remain unknown since his arrest. Chinese authorities have provided no information regarding his situation. Sources reveal that he was detained on charges related to possessing the Dalai Lama’s photograph and various e-books on his phone.

Tenzin Khenrab’s mother, Wodhi, has been deeply concerned about her son’s well-being since his arrest. Her health has reportedly deteriorated due to the stress and worry over her son’s fate. However, this information has only recently come to light due to the severe restrictions on communication within Tibet.

Dhong Rangchak, 29, hails from Lower Wuthok village, Nyakchu County, Tibet. He received his education at Wuthok Monastery, Lithang Gonchen, and Dzachu Ka, where he studied both Tibetan and Chinese languages. Known for his passion for writing, Dhong Rangchak has been described as a talented individual dedicated to his craft. He lived with his mother, who is 53 years old.

The arrest of Dhong Rangchak is part of a broader pattern of oppression by the Chinese government against intellectuals, writers, and critics within Tibet. In recent years, there have been increasing reports of individuals facing persecution on allegations of possessing pictures of Dalai Lama. 

Possession of the Dalai Lama’s photo is seen as an “anti-China” or “separatist” activity by the Chinese communist government, which is punishable by imprisonment. In August 2022, Karma Samdup, a resident of Sernye Township in Nagchu, was detained by the authorities for carrying a photo of the Dalai Lama around his neck and another one hanging in his car.

In June and July 2022, three Tibetans were arrested for possessing photos of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is in exile, around the time of his 87th birthday on July 6.

According to reports from August 2018, a Tibetan family was blacklisted by Chinese authorities for being “separatist sympathisers.” This has prevented them from accessing government benefits after officials discovered a photo of the exiled Tibetan leader in their possession. The incident occurred in Lithang County, which is located in what China calls the Sichuan province in occupied Tibet.

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