Nine imprisoned in Driru for “splittist activities”

An undated file photo of Topden aka Dro Ghang Gah

An undated file photo of Topden aka Dro Ghang Gah, who has been sentenced to five years in prison by Chinese authorities. TCHRD Handout

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 5 December 2013

Nine Tibetans have been sentenced in Shagchu (Ch: Xiaqu) town in Driru (Ch: Biru) County, Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, “Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)”, according to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, an exile Tibetan group.

They were charged with maintaining contacts with the “Dalai clique” and “engaging in activities to split the nation,” and sentenced to varying terms.

The sentencing has come following China’s ongoing crackdown in enforcing the government’s “mass line” policy. Among the nine, three have been identified.

Topden, a nomad and writer who writes under the pseudonym Dro Ghang Gah. Topden, 30, was arrested on 28 October. He was sentenced to five years in prison on 30 November, reports TCHRD. He is from Village no 4 in Shagchu town. He and his wife Dakar are raising three young children together.

Topden was reportedly imprisoned for “keeping contacts with Dalai clique and for engaging in activities to split the nation.”

He had written a poem detailing the atrocities faced by local Tibetans in Driru County since early this year. The poem encompasses events during the early years of Chinese rule in Tibet, particularly Nagchu area during 1969 when thousands of Tibetans were starved, imprisoned, and killed. It also contain details on some of the recent crackdowns in Driru County, including the beating and continued incommunicado detention of layman Dayang, 69, in Dongla Rudo Village in Tsachu Township.

The poem also mentions the sacred Naglha Dzamba Mountain where hundreds of Tibetans protesting mining activities at the holy mountain have clashed with armed police in recent years.

Two others identified as having been sentenced are Tenzin Rangdol and Ven Kunchok Choephel.

Rangdol, 32, is self-employed and a father of three. Rangdol’s arbitrary arrest on 18 October led to an overnight protest the next day by Tibetans outside the government office. He was sentenced on 30 November to five years in prison for the same charges as Topden. Rangdol is also from Village no 4.

Ven Kunchok Choephel, 28, was arrested on 18 November. He was sentenced on 30 November to six years in prison on the same charges as Topden and Rangdol. Ven Choephel is from Nga-yang village in Shagchu town.

TCHRD is also reporting that Lobsang Tashi, a monk from Rabten Monastery was arrested while he was doing his daily meditation. He was arrested on 23 September, and local Public Security Bureau officers also seized the monk’s personal mobile phone and other electrical gadgets.

Lobsang is from Village no. 8 in Dathang Township. His whereabouts remain unknown.

The identities of six others sentenced are not known immediately due to extreme government censorship and surveillance in Driru and neighbouring counties in Nagchu Prefecture.

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