DHARAMSALA, May 20: A popular Tibetan singer from Driru county in traditional Kham province’s Nagchu prefecture (now incorporated into Tibet Autonomous Region) has been sentenced to three and half years’ jail term.
Gonpo Tenzin, who hails from Septha village in Shagchu township, Diru county was arrested on Nov 30, 2013 in Lhasa on unknown charges. He was 25 at the time of his arrest. After being kept under detention for over a year, he was sentenced to three and half years’ jail term with political rights deprived for four years by a Chinese court on Apr 15, 2015.
Though the exact charges under which he has been sentenced could not be ascertained, his friends and local Tibetans suspect that it was related to the release of a special album in 2013 titled “Gangchen Bod La Losar Gang Na Yod” (Eng: No New Year for Tibet), the title song of which became a major hit among Tibetans and increased Gonpo Tenzin’s popularity.
Gonpo Tenzin is also known for producing and distributing a number of music albums that contained lyrics highlighting the situation inside Tibet and calling for the promotion and preservation of Tibetan culture, language and identity.
“Through an extensive network of surveillance and censorship, Tibetans in Driru are being harassed, detained and arrested by Chinese authorities for allegedly “threatening national security” and “maintaining contact with the outside world,” a source said citing local Tibetans and further confirmed that two Tibetan residents of Shagchu township in Driru, Tewo Dharzang and Kherab have been arbitrarily arrested recently.
Driru county has been reeling under tension since September 2013 after Tibetans protested a “Chinese flag campaign” that required Tibetans to display forced loyalty to the Communist Party of China by hoisting the Chinese national flag from their homes. Detention, torture and arrests of scores of Tibetans, including writers and singers followed the incident and many of them have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms, their only crime being exercising basic fundamental rights to demand freedom for Tibetans.