Popular Tibetan singer from Driru county released after completing 3.5 years’ sentence

DHARAMSALA, Aug 8: A popular Tibetan singer from Driru county in traditional Kham province’s Nagchu prefecture (now incorporated into Tibet Autonomous Region) has been released by the Chinese Authorities after completing his sentence.

Gonpo Tenzin was released on Aug 1, after completing his three and a half years’ sentence,  the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet reported.

However, his health condition after his release remains unknown. The singer received numerous greetings and good wishes on social media following his release, but the messages and photos were later deleted, the advocacy group said in the report.

Gonpo Tenzin pictured after his release. Image: Free Tibet

The popular Tibetan singer hails from Septha village in Shagchu township, Diru county and he 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 was sentenced could not be ascertained upon his arrest, 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 GonpoTenzin’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.

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.

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