By Tendar Tsering
DHARAMSHALA, April 6: Chinese courts in Tibet have sentenced two eminent Tibetans, a highly respected Tibetan abbot and a popular Tibetan singer to two years in jail.
Khenpo Gyewala, abbot at the Gyegyel Zogchen Monastery, Zatoe was sentenced to two years in jail after spending 20 days of incommunicado detention in March.
Khenpo Gyewala had gone “'missing” on March 8 in Zatoe after local Chinese authorities banned a famed religious festival organised by the Monsel School, founded by the abbot.
The Dharamshala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy quoted sources as saying that a relative of Khenpo was called on March 28 to Zatoe county Public Security Bureau (PSB) office to speak on phone with him.
“Before talking on phone to Khenpo, the relative was warned by officers not to share information about Khenpo's sister who died on March 15 after falling unconscious in the county PSB office,” TCHRD said.
Sources have identified the deceased sister as Boyang, 41, whose death has been linked directly to the emotional shock she suffered after failing to obtain any information regarding her brother on a number of occasions.
Also in March, Ugyen Tenzin, 25, a popular Tibetan singer was sentenced to two years in jail on charges of singing “political songs” calling for Tibetan unity and freedom.
Ugyen was detained in February after releasing an album with songs of praise in honour of the Dalai Lama, Karmapa and Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay, the political head of the Tibetan exile administration.
According to TCHRD, Ugyen was detained for a year in 2008 for protesting against Chinese mining operations in Nangchen County.
“Ugyen Tenzin’s family was not allowed to visit him. Details of his whereabouts and condition are not immediately known,” TCHRD said.
Reports have indicated that local authorities, after sentencing Ugyen, are now on the look out for the lyricist of the songs.
“China is targeting the Tibetan singers and writers because they are the ones who inspire the fellow Tibetans to stand in front of the Chinese guns amidst the crackdown in Tibet,” Jamphel Monlam, the assistant director of TCHRD said.
Since 2008, China has arrested around 60 Tibetan artists, Jamphel added.