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China restricts, censors funeral of thrice jailed Tibetan lama

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(TibetanReview.net, Mar26’22) – China has severely curtailed and completely censored the funeral of a revered Tibetan Buddhist leader who had been jailed three times since 1960, including for speaking with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, about the situation in his monastery located in Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) City of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Choktrul Dawa Rinpoche, 86, died on Jan 30 at his residence in Tibet’s capital Lhasa.

“But the Chinese government tried to keep Rinpoche’s demise as secret as possible, and warned people not to share news of his death online,” reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Mar 25, citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation.

Besides, “pictures and videos of Rinpoche already published online were quickly deleted by the Chinese government,” the source has said.

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Rinpoche was a senior teacher at the Ganden Dargyeling Monastery in Nagchu County. He was tried and jailed for seven years in 2010 after he discussed the affairs at his monastery with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. And he continued to remain under tight restriction after his release.

After his posthumous meditative state (thugdham) ended on Feb 13, guards were posted at his residence and they prevented devotees from paying their respects. Only people with Lhasa residence proof were allowed in.

After his body was eventually permitted to be moved to his monastery in Nagchu County on Feb 18 after repeated pleas, only two escort vehicles were allowed to carry or accompany it.

At the monastery, only few people were permitted to pay their respects, “which led to a brief commotion between the Tibetan devotees and the Chinese police,” the source has said.

Later, on Feb 25, only monks from his monastery were permitted to attend his cremation ceremony. Their cell phones were searched to ensure that no pictures had been taken of the event.

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Choktrul Dawa Rinpoche, born in Nagchu in 1937, had previously been jailed for five years in 1960 for opposing China’s occupation of Tibet. He was again jailed during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) for seven years, the report said.

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