(TibetanReview.net, Nov05’22) – Chinese authorities in Ngaba (or Ngawa, Chinese: Aba) Prefecture of what is now part of China’s Sichuan Province have jailed a Tibetan Buddhist monastic official for two years after they discovered that he had sent money abroad as religious offerings to be made to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the exiled head of his local Kirti Monastery. The purpose was to beseech their prayers for the wellbeing of his family. Such offering money are usually token amounts and in any case do not involve substantial funds.
The monk, Sonam Gyatso, a Geshe degree holder, was arrested on Apr 3, 2021 while holidaying in the provincial capital Chengdu, said the Oslo-based Tibetan-language broadcast service vot.org Nov 4, citing an exile Tibetan with local contacts requesting anonymity.
The monk was stated to have been sentenced recently after being in interrogative detention for more than a year.
The authorities were stated to have discovered that he had sent money abroad, including to Dharamshala-based Kirti Rinpoche, for the stated religious purpose after they seized his mobile phone and went through its messaging contents.
The report said he was serving his jail sentence in Mianyang prison, located near Chengdu.
Sonam Gyatso had joined Kirti Monastery at a young age. He began working at the monastery after earning his Geshe degree and was its monastic discipline master at the time of his arrest.
Geshe Sonam Gyatso’s older sister, Tsering Lhamo, was also stated to have been detained a year ago for unknown reasons. A bank employee in Ngaba County, there has been no information on her status or whereabouts ever since she was taken away, the report cited the source as saying.