RFA: Three Tibetans Jailed for Suspected Separatism

January 26, 2006

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that two monks of Chogri Monastery, Dzokar and Tobden, and layman Lobsang Tsering were detained last July in Luhuo County (Tibetan: Draggo), in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Tibetan: Kardze), Sichuan province. According to RFA's sources, police suspected the three of putting up pro-independence posters on local government buildings. They were sentenced to three years imprisonment.

The men were among 60 Tibetans detained during a reception for a Tibetan Buddhist teacher visiting from Switzerland. Witnesses told RFA that a religious banner was displayed at the ceremony that featured a snow lion motif, thus resembling the banned Tibetan flag. Most were released after a few days, but authorities continued to hold the two Chogri monks and the third man in connection with posters that had appeared the same month.

NGOs, including Tibet Information Network (TIN) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), have published reports this year that call attention to the political imprisonment of Tibetans in Sichuan. Both organizations assert that the detention rate is relatively higher in Sichuan than in other Tibetan areas. Reports link the current situation to a repressive policy toward Tibetan religious views and practices. Loyalty to the Dalai Lama remains high and even peaceful displays of devotion to him are subject to being treated as separatism by authorities. The Department of State's reports, "International Religious Freedom 2004," and "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003," both noted the upsurge in Sichuan.