DHARAMSALA, Jul 14: A senior Tibetan Buddhist scholar has been sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Chinese court in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa.
Ven Tenzin Lhundrup of Gom Gonsar monastery in Lenchu township in Driru County in Tibet Autonomous Region’s Nagchu Prefecture (earlier part of Kham province) was sentenced in May 2015 for allegedly engaging in ‘anti-governmental activities’, after being held in detention for over a year.
“He was arrested by Chinese police in May 2014 from Shagchu township in Driru where he was speaking at a public gathering on the status of ‘Tibetan nationality and language’ at the behest of local Tibetan residents during one of his visits to the area,” said a reliable source adding, “until the news about his sentencing was confirmed, his family and friends did not know about his whereabouts and health condition for about a year as authorities refrained from proving any information about him.”
Ven Tenzin Lhundup became a threat and a target of the Chinese government since his involvement in a protest last year by local Tibetans against Chinese mining activities at the sacred Naglha Dzamba Mountain in the area. He had urged the local Tibetans to protect the mountain and also publicly offered Khatags (Tibetan ceremonial scarves) to members of the Naglha Dzamba Protection Committee, a local committee set up to protect the sacred mountain, in recognition and appreciation of their efforts in resisting the Chinese mining activities.
At the time of his arrest, when local Tibetans asked for the reason behind his arrest, Chinese police told them that his arrest was not only related to his public talk on Tibetan nationality and language but also with various other ‘anti-governmental activities’, including organizing the protest against mining activities at Naglha Dzamba Mountain.
Ven Tenzin Lhundup hails from Geney village in Shagchu township and was ordained as a Buddhist monk at an early age at Gom Gonsar monastery. Around 2002, he underwent meditational retreat for three years at Drigung Thil monastery, the traditional seat of Drigung Kagyue tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, located in Medrogonkar county in Lhasa. He also studied scriptures and traditions of other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, thus widening his knowledge of the Buddha dharma.
After returning to Gom Gonsar monastery, he took charge as the head of the prayer sessions and taught Buddhist philosophy to the monks of the monastery. On Wednesdays, which is observed by Tibetans as Lhakar or the ‘soul day’ of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he would speak to local Tibetans in the nearby towns on Buddhism, conflict resolution and urge them to embrace vegetarianism, earning trust and respect from the local Tibetans.