Tibetan writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen and his friend Yougyal sentenced to 13 and 10 years’ jail term

DHARAMSALA, April 1: Tsultrim Gyaltsen, a young Tibetan writer who goes by the pen name, “Shogdril” and his friend Yougyal, a former policeman have been sentenced to 13 and 10 years’ imprisonment respectively by a people’s court in Tibet Autonomous Region.

The court pronounced the sentence on October 28, 2013 accusing them of “disrupting stability” and publicly speaking against Chinese government officials.

Their families who were worried about their whereabouts came to know about the sentence in March this year when one member from each family was allowed to visit and talk with them for about ten minutes over the phone at Chushur prison in Lhasa, according to a source.

Writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen in an undated photo
Writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen in an undated photo

“Though the families were informed that a court in TAR handed down the verdict, it is questionable whether a court trial has been held as the family members were not provided with any legal documents to prove otherwise,” said the source and added “many Tibetans in the TAR have been in the past, and are still being sent to prison for lengthy jail terms under “political” charges without following any legal procedures.”

When top Chinese officials of TAR, including Deputy Party Secretary of TAR and Dothog, Party Secretary of Nagchu Prefecture visited Driru County to placate the Tibetan protestors who were demanding the release of several Tibetans for refusing to hoist Chinese flags atop their houses, Tsultrim Gyaltsen and Yougyal publicly confronted the Chinese leaders and spoke at length about the grievances and welfare of the Tibetans.

On October 11, 2013 County police arrested Tsultrim Gyaltsen at around 1 a.m. (local time) from his home in Tengkhar Village in Shamchu Township in Driru County.  The police thoroughly searched his home and confiscated his computer, mobile phone and all the books. Tsultrim’s friend Yougyal was also arrested on the morning of October 11, 2013 from the same village.

As a monk, Tsultrim studied for years at various reputed buddhist institutes and monasteries in eastern Tibet, including Dege Palyul monastery, Sertha Institute and Kirti monastery among others. In late 2009, Tsultrim disrobed and enrolled at the Northwest University for Nationalities to learn creative writing in Chinese language. In 2012, while at the Northwest University for Nationalities, along with several other students, he started a yearly journal called Mirab Sarpa. Tsultrim was the chief editor of the journal.

Yougyal in and undated photo
Yougyal in and undated photo

However, few months before the completion of his studies at the university, he was expelled from the university in May 2013 along with several other students for carrying out discussions on topics deemed “illegal” by the authorities.

Tsultrim returned to Driru County in June 2013 and opened a guest house called Mirab Sarpai Dronkhang and voluntarily taught Tibetan and Chinese language to the local Tibetan
youth during his spare time. In 2007, he published two books, “Khawa la treng wai dung sem ki Chong dra” and “Gangri hi lewang”. He also wrote essays and poetry in Chinese language on his blog called Shogdril’s blog.

Yougyal, 26 was a former policeman who quit his job in 2012 after serving for seven years due to difficulty in carrying out his duties as it involved too much politics. He joined the police service in 2005 and was known to be kind to the local Tibetans. Yougyal hails from the same village as Tsultrim. His wife’s name is Lhakyi Dolma and has two children.


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