(TibetanReview.net, Aug02’22) – After arrest-disappearing him in Jun 2020 with his cousin sister for having helped local Tibetans to send money to their kith and kin living abroad, China has jailed a Tibetan businessman in northern Tibet’s Nagchu City for two and half years, according to Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Aug 2.
It is not clear on what grounds the businessman, Tharpa (or Tarpa), 39, was convicted and jailed.
New York-based Human Rights Watch reported on his case and the case of his cousin Lhamo, 36, both residents of Diru (Chinese: Biru) County in Nagchu (Naqu) City, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), in Oct 2020.
The report followed the death in Aug 2020 of Lhamo due to what was stated to be custodial torture.
Tharpa’s whereabouts and status continued to remain unknown until just recently when it was learnt that he had been secretly tried and jailed for two and half years.
Earlier, Tharpa’s family had hired a Chinese lawyer through whom they learnt that he was being held at an undisclosed location in Nagchu Town. However, the lawyer was unable to take part in his defence as the trial was held in secret.
In the case of Lhamo, a mother of three, there was no investigation of her death. The centre said local authorities quickly cremated her body without an autopsy, denying her family any opportunity to conduct their customary last rites.
Tharpa, a former monk, had studied at the famed Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in a Tibetan area that is now part of China’s Sichuan Province. After China banned monks from outside the area from the academy, Tharpa left the monastic order in 2012.
He returned to Diru and set up a school for local Tibetan children. However, Chinese authorities shut it down later on while putting him under surveillance. In 2014, he started a business dealing in medicinal plants, including the prized Yartsa Gunbu (caterpillar fungus), and became a success in it.
Tharpa’s imprisonment and Lhamo’s death are parts of China’s move to criminalise Tibetans who maintain contact with and financially support their children, relatives and friends living abroad, including in their higher education pursuits, the centre said.
Many Tibetans from Diru and neighbouring Sog (Suo) County who now live in India have not been able to speak to their families and friends in Tibet since at least 2016, the centre said.
This was stated to have followed the implementation in Driru in 2014 of a set of regulations which banned local Tibetans from maintaining any sort of contact with Tibetans living in India. Punishments were announced for anyone violating the regulations, including with the cancellation of government benefits and subsidies.