TCHRD calls for immediate release of Tibetan Singer Gegjom, Urges China to Respect Human Rights

Tibetan singer Gegjom, arbitrarily detained by Chinese authorities. Image: screenshot from TCHRD video.

DHARAMSALA, 26 March: The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy(TCHRD) has called for the immediate release of Tibetan singer Gegjom from China’s unjust detention. The Dharamsala-based rights group has expressed deep concern about Gegjom’s safety, citing the routine mistreatment of Tibetan detainees in undisclosed facilities without access to legal processes.

“We are deeply concerned about the condition and wellbeing of Gegjom because we know Tibetan detainees are routinely tortured and ill-treated in the most inhumane manner in undisclosed locations with no access to due legal process,” said Ms Tenzin Dawa, executive director of TCHRD. “For his own safety and to uphold his human rights, Gegjom must be granted immediate access to his family members and released unconditionally without any delay.”

According to TCHRD, Gegjom, a prominent artist known for his critical songs, vanished after receiving a summons from local police in Khyungchu (Ch: Hongyuan) County, in Ngaba in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo during Losar (the Tibetan New Year) on 12 February 2024. The lack of transparency surrounding his arrest and the absence of due legal process has raised concerns about his safety and well-being.

TCHRD stated that when Gegjom’s family members approached the county police station seeking information, they were met with evasive responses citing concerns over the content and message of his recent song performance titled ‘Tearful deluge of a sorrowful song.’ “The song he sang and the thinking [behind it] raise concerns. The local police are currently interrogating him. It would be better for him if his family does not disclose any information about his current situation with the outside world. That way, things will go smoother,” the authorities said to the family members.

Gegjom’s song ‘Tearful Deluge of a Sorrowful Song’ critiques Chinese rule and expresses grievances common among Tibetans while drawing attention to the repressive policies of the Chinese Party-State. A translated excerpt from the song reads: “In a country without the Dalai Lama, a leader exists but is illegitimate. Like a deer lost in the fog, so are Tibetans without direction. The sun of just policy is eclipsed in this land of injustice. Confronted with injustice, the red-faced Tibetans are ants under a giant’s feet. In this land rife with torture, the ‘lamp of peace’ is mere empty rhetoric. Deprived of freedom, Tibetans are like birds confined inside a cage.”

TCHRD has declared that Gegjom’s arbitrary detention is emblematic of a broader pattern of repression against minority rights and cultural expression in Tibet, adding that Tibetan singers engaging in peaceful dissent often face accusations of threatening national security or social stability under vaguely defined laws. The rights group has added that the revised National Security Law has further empowered authorities to justify enforced disappearances and crackdowns on the free expression of singers, writers, poets, and intellectuals in Tibet.

However, the report notes that despite China’s constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression, in reality, it paints a stark contrast to the harsh realities experienced by individuals like Gegjom. His detention, TCHRD said, serves as a stark reminder of the limited space for dissent and the dangers faced by those who dare to criticize the Chinese government’s policies

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