China arrests two Tibetan singers in Driru

Tibetan singers Thinley Tsekar (left) and Gonpo Tenzin

Tibetan singers Thinley Tsekar (left) and Gonpo Tenzin. TCHRD Handout

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, India, 7 December 2013

Two Tibetan singers have become the latest targets of China’s crackdown in Driru (Ch: Biru) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, “Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)”, reports Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

Thinley Tsekar, 22, and Gonpo Tenzin, 25, were arrested in two separate incidents in late November in Driru County.

Thinley Tsekar was arrested around 20 November when he visited the local driving school to get his driver’s license. Sources with contacts in Driru said Tsekar was arrested because he had distributed a DVD that contained songs he had sung on Tibetan identity, culture and language.

One of his popular DVDs is titled “Ring of Unity” (Tib: Thundil ki Along). Thinley Tsekar is a well-known singer who used to express the pain and suffering of Tibetan people through his songs.

He is from Serkhang Village in Driru Township. His family members, including his aged mother Yangchen Dolker, wife and one child, have no idea where he is being held and in what condition.

Gonpo Tenzin was arrested on 30 November in Lhasa on unknown charges. There is no confirmed information on the causes of his sudden and arbitrary arrest. Friends of the singer suspect that he might have been arrested in connection with his songs that contained lyrics calling for the promotion and propagation of Tibetan culture, literature and language. He had distributed a number of DVDs of his songs among local Tibetans.

He released a special album titled “No Losar for Tibet”, the title song of which became hugely popular among Tibetans. With the growing repression and relentless self-immolations in Tibet, the title song “No Losar for Tibet” touched a chord among many Tibetans who felt that celebrating Losar (Tibetan New Year) would be inappropriate given the situation inside Tibet.

Gonpo Tenzin’s popularity increased after the song became a major hit. Gonpo Tenzin comes from Septha Village in Shagchu (Ch: Xiaqu) Town, Driru County.

In recent months Driru County has become politically sensitive for Chinese authorities. They have arrested many Tibetans including a popular writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen, and sentenced another writer Topden to five years in prison. Driru has become a focal point of China’s implementation of “mass line” policy and its attendant crackdown.

Since September, Chinese authorities have violently suppressed protests by local Tibetans, subjecting them to gross human rights abuses such as arbitrary detention, torture, unlawful imprisonment and enforced disappearance. The crackdown has since spread to other areas neighbouring Driru, as well as Lhasa, after authorities there began putting 24-hour surveillance on Nagchu Tibetans in Lhasa.

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