(TibetanReview.net, Jul07’21) – Chinese authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have jailed four Tibetan monks of a little-known monastery named Tengdro Monastery in Dingri (Chinese: Tingri) County of Shigatse City to jail sentences from 5 to 20 years for having maintained online contacts and donated earthquake relief to fellow-monastics in Nepal or otherwise for possessing literature on or pictures of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, said New York-based Human Rights Watch Jul 6.
Releasing a 61-page report, “‘Prosecute Them with Awesome Power’: China’s Crackdown on Tengdro Monastery and Restrictions on Communications in Tibet,” the group saw the harsh punishments as a reflection of increasing pressure on local officials to restrict online communications and punish peaceful expression as a security threat.
In Sep 2019, police in Tibet’s capital Lhasa found private messages on a cell phone left by Tengdro monk Choegyal Wangpo in a restaurant. They found that several messages had been exchanged with Tibetan monks living in Nepal, including records of donations after the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
The police responded with a raid on the monastery that resulted in multiple arrests, a suicide, and, in 2020, a secret trial of four monks, the group said.
The groups said the four monks – Choegyal Wangpo, Lobsang Jinpa, Norbu Dondrup, and Ngawang Yeshe – had received sentences of 20, 19, 17, and 5 years respectively in the 2020 secret trial, even though sending messages abroad or making humanitarian donations did not violate Chinese law.
The group has called for the four monks’ immediate release and on concerned governments and the United Nations to pressure the Chinese government to respect human rights of the Tibetan people.
“The horrific treatment of the Tengdro monks points to the Chinese government’s pressure on officials in Tibet to find and punish cases of political subversion – even if the alleged subversion is a figment of their imagination,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.