China Detains Tibetan Monk for Peaceful Protest Demanding Dalai Lama’s Return, Religious Freedom

By Tsering Choephel

Pema in an undated photo. Image: TCHRD.

DHARAMSALA, 9 March: The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), a Dharamsala-based Tibetan advocacy group, reported on Monday that a Tibetan monk from Ngaba County in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo was detained incommunicado by the Chinese authorities on 26 March after staging a lone protest calling for the “Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet” and “Religious Freedom in Tibet.”

The monk, named Pema, staged a solitary peaceful protest on the road locally known as ‘Pawo Road’ (Eng: Martyr Road), in Ngaba. He was carrying a portrait of the Dalai Lama, which is banned in Tibet, and was shouting slogans calling for the “Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet” and “Religious Freedom in Tibet,” among others, TCHRD reported citing an unnamed source.

The local Public Security Bureau Officers arrested and detained Pema, and he is currently held in detention incommunicado. Following his arbitrary arrest, Chinese security forces have intensified their control and restrictions in the Ngaba region, especially in Pema’s native village of Soruma and Kirti Monastery where he teaches, the report added.

A source reportedly informed TCHRD that “prior to deleting his WeChat account, Chinese authorities contacted individuals on his contact list, seeking information about their identities. His personal WeChat is now inaccessible and has been deleted.”

Moreover, Pema has previously confronted the local police authorities several times for pressuring young monks from the Kirti monastic schools to enrol in state-run schools instead of the monastery’s school.

TCHRD expressed its concerns about the fate of Pema and his whereabouts, calling on the Chinese authorities for his immediate release without condition. It urged them to “also disclose Pema’s whereabouts and condition to his family members without delay and guarantee his physical and mental well-being.”

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