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China detains two Tibetan monks for ‘illegal’ WeChat postings

(TibetanReview.net, Apr19, 2018) – Chinese authorities have taken away two monks in Tsolho (Chinese: Hainan) Prefecture of Qinghai Province during a Legal Education programme for having posted “sensitive pictures and articles” on the popular Chinese messaging App WeChat, said Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights Democracy Apr 18. It did not know or say what those “sensitive pictures and articles” were.

Calling the arrests arbitrary, the centre said the monks, Woechung Gyatso and an unidentified one, were taken away on Apr 16 from Tsang Dhondup Rabten Ling Monastery in Gepasumdo (Tongde) County.

The centre said the monks were detained after the conclusion of a workshop on cybersecurity organised by Chinese authorities at the monastery in March. During the ‘legal education’ workshop, which was on China’s newly implemented Cybersecurity Law, monks were warned of severe consequences for violating the law.

The centre said an investigation launched alongside the workshop resulted in several monks, including Woechung Gyatso, being forced to write confession letters for having posted and shared with others illegal contents online.

The centre believes Woechung Gyatso was detained for posting on WeChat pictures and articles deemed illegal under Chinese laws, particularly the Cybersecurity Law that came into effect in Jun 2017.

Woechung Gyatso is still in detention while the other monk is believed to have been released after interrogation.

The Cybersecurity Law gives sweeping power to the police to arrest people for committing vaguely defined offences of ‘leaking state secrets’ and ‘inciting separatism’.

The centre noted that during the 2008 protest which swept much of the Tibetan Plateau, more than 500 monks of Tsang Monastery had hoisted a Tibetan national flag on the monastery roof. They were also said to have carried out a peaceful demonstration, holding up photos of the Dalai Lama.

The centre said that in Apr 2017, a monk named Choktrin Gyatso was released after serving 10 years in jail for participating in a Mar 2008 demonstration at Tsang Monastery.

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