DHARAMSALA, Mar 18: Seven monks of Tsendhen monastery in restive Sog County in Nagchu Prefecture, formerly part of Kham Province, now incorporated in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region have been arbitrarily detained and disappeared on Mar 14 by Chinese police.
The monks have been identified as Namgyal Tsultrim, Lobsang Tenzin, Tsultrim Goche, Tsultrim Namgyal, Thapkhe Lhundup, Jigme Tsultrim and Jigme Drakpa.
Though Chinese police did not provide any explanation for the arrests, local Tibetans suspect that they were arrested for sharing photographs and information related to the issue of Tibet, according to an exiled Tibetan source with contacts in the region.
Their condition and whereabouts still remain unknown.
Out of the seven monks, Namgyal Tsultrim was detained for a week in late 2011 by Chinese police in Lhasa for allegedly “maintaining contact with the outside world”.
On Oct 6, 2012 he was detained again and labelled a “separatist” for keeping 4 CDs of HH the Dalai Lama’s teaching on Choejug (A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life). Following his arrest, he was kept alternately between a prison and a detention centre in Nagchu County for 4 months and 28 days during which he was severely tortured. He was then shifted to Toelung prison in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital where he spent 3 months and 11 days enduring further torture and inhuman treatment.
After spending over 8 months in prison, he was released in poor physical condition, with his left hand rendered useless due to intensive torture suffered in prison.
The source said security presence around the monastery has been increased since the said arrests. “Currently authorities have installed about 50 surveillance cameras in Tsendhen monastery premises to monitor the daily activities of the monks who live in constant fear and intimidation. The source said the monks even harassed and threatened at night when they go out to relieve themselves,” the source said.
“The authorities have further barred anyone below the age of 18 from becoming a monk at the monastery,” he added.
Details about the other six monks could not be ascertained at the time of filing this report.