Tibet Weekly Update – May 22, 2015

A listing of the top news developments in and around Tibet during the previous week.

 

Tibetan father of four self-immolates amid oppressive measures to prevent Dalai Lama birthday celebrations

Tenzin Gyatso

Photo of Tenzin Gyatso posted on Tibetan media sites.

A Tibetan man named Tenzin Gyatso fire to himself in Tawu, eastern Tibet, on May 20. Tenzin Gyatso, a father of four children, was taken away by armed police and it is not known if he is still alive. He set fire to himself outside a government building where political education was carried out, according to Tibetan sources. This followed an intense paramilitary buildup in Tawu apparently linked to the authorities’ efforts to prevent any celebrations of the Dalai Lama’s upcoming 80th birthday on July 6. For more information, please see our full report.


 

Popular Tibetan singer Gonpo Tenzin given 3.5 year prison sentence

Gonpo Tenzin

Gonpo Tenzin

Gonpo Tenzin, who hails from the restive region of Nagchu, has been held by the police since late 2013. His relatives told Voice of America that they believe he was arrested for a song he wrote titled “Where is the New Year in Tibet?” The song, which calls on Tibetans to preserve their language and culture, was part on album based on that theme which became highly popular in Tibet according to Tibetan news site Phayul.


 

One monk released from prison in Kardze as another monk is arrested

Palden Trinlay

Palden Trinlay after his release (Photo: RFA)

Palden Trinlay, one of several monks who staged a protest together in Kardze in 2008, was released just days ago after completing a seven year sentence. Local sources told RFA that police returned him to his hometown late in the night to avoid any scenes of public celebration, but well-wishers stayed up late to welcome him regardless.

In the same prefecture, a monk from Tawu Nyitso monastery was taken away by the police on Monday, May 18th. No reason has been stated for the arrest of the monk, named Tsewang Choephel, but there are suspicions that it may be related to his participation in a protest following an earlier self-immolation in Tawu.


 

Chinese rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang charged after almost a year in detention

Pu Zhiqiang
Pu Zhiqiang has been charged with inciting ethnic hatred and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Chinese authorities are using a series of tweets Pu made to justify these charges, which could add up to 8 years in prison. The tweets have been described by the South China Morning Post as “mostly sarcastic criticisms of the Communist Party and its policies towards ethnic minorities,” with one in particular aimed at Beijing’s policies requiring Tibetan monasteries to hang photographs of Chinese leaders like Mao Zedong and Hu Jintao.



PRI report: “In Tibet, bloggers post at their own risk”

Armed Chinese police

Armed Chinese police outside the Jokhang in Lhasa (Image: Reuters)


Josh Eaton, an independent journalist, writes on the PRI site:

These are treacherous days for anyone in China who dares to publicly criticize government policy, especially when it comes to Beijing’s handling the troubled ethnic minority regions of Tibet.

A Tibetan blogger named Druklo is one of the latest people to find that out the hard way. Druklo was arrested by Chinese police in a part of Qinghai province that Tibetans call Rebkong, according to a Tibetan friend who now lives in exile. The friend asked to remain anonymous out of concern that making their friendship public might put Druklo at greater risk.

For more, please read the full story here.


 

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