(TibetanReview.net, Jul13, 2017) – A popular Tibetan singer jailed by China for organizing concerts on themes exhorting Tibetans to preserve their ethnic identity has returned home in what is now part of Gansu Province on Jul 10 after completing his four-year sentence in neighbouring Sichuan Province, said Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Jul 11. The centre said his parents took him home in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) Prefecture after he emerged from Mianyang Prison near Sichuan’s capital Chengdu.
The singer, Kalsang Yarphel, aged 41, was held by Chinese police from Tibet’s capital Lhasa on or around Jul 14, 2013 and taken to Chengdu from where he disappeared until he was tried and sentenced on Nov 27, 2014.
Popular since childhood for his beautiful singing voice, Yarphel had performed at concerts organized by government as well as private entities. What earned him the Chinese government’s attention was his songs under the dunglen theme under which Tibetan singers seek to reinforce in the Tibetan people pride in their historical identity by evoking images of their shared ethnicity, history, culture, and territory.
The centre said that at one of his Khawai Metok concerts during Oct-Nov 2012, Yarphel performed a song called Bhodpa Tso (Fellow Tibetans) whose lyrics exhorted Tibetans to learn and speak their mother tongue, unite, build courage and patriotism for the future of the Tibetan nation. Also at a Nyenchen Thangla Night Show he organized in Lhasa, Yarphel performed a song called Nga ni Bhod ki Bhu Yin (I am but a son of Tibet) based on the same theme.
It was for organizing concerts and singing songs under this theme that Chinese police previously detained him twice in 2012 but let him off each time. However, his DVDs were banned and confiscated. Nevertheless, DVD recordings of his Khawai Metok concerts were widely distributed in other Tibetan-populated areas. His 2014 arrest came amidst a national crackdown on public assertions of Tibetan national and cultural identity.