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Tensions escalate in Tibet’s Diru County following beating death in police custody

February 10, 2014

February 7, 2014 - A Tibetan youth has died in police custody soon after his arrest in Diru (Ch: Biru) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Konchok Dakpa, a youth from Chamram Village in Diru Township was held incommunicado for weeks since his arrest in December 2013. On 20 January 2014, his body was returned to his family who were given strict orders not to discuss the death with others. Sources with contacts in Diru said Konchok Dakpa was severely beaten and tortured during his secret detention, indicating that his death was the direct result of police torture. Local Tibetans believe that he was most likely punished for his participation in May 2013 protest against Chinese mining at the sacred Naglha Dzamba Mountain.

The news of Konchok Dakpa’s death comes close on the heels of the death of a learned Buddhist scholar Geshe Ngawang Jamyang whose body was returned to his family in late December 2013, less than a month after his arrest.

According to latest information, Kelsang Choklang, the monk from Tarmoe Monastery who was arrested along with Geshe Ngawang Jamyang was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A native of Yuthang Village in Tsachu Township, he was sentenced in January 2014. Local Tibetans say he was likely charged of “illegally gathering a crowd” although they believe the charges are false. “Kelsang Choklang is known for his great love and respect for traditional Tibetan culture. He has always called for protection of Tibetan culture and harmony among different nationalities,” a source told TCHRD.

Another Tibetan layman Dorje Dragtsel was also sentenced to 11 years in prison last month. Sources say he was given seven years for allegedly being one of the ringleaders of the May 2013 demonstration against mining activities at the sacred Naglha Dzamba Mountain, in addition to three years for wantonly lending money to others and one year for obstructing the work of permanent cadres stationed in Diru County. Details are still sketchy on the second charge as it cannot be ascertained immediately how someone can be charged for helping others, in this case borrowing money to others.

Dorje Dragtsel had been missing since his arrest on 3 October 2013. On 6 October 2013, Dragtsel’s secret detention triggered a protest among the local Tibetans in Dathang Township. The protest was violently suppressed by about 300 security forces using guns and iron batons. The whereabouts and condition of Tsultrim Nyendak, a monk from Rabten Monastery in Tsachu Township, remain unknown since his arrest from Lhasa in late 2013.

Sources quote local Tibetans as saying that hundreds have been targeted, arrested or disappeared since crackdown began last year in Diru County in the name of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s “mass line” campaign last year. Many are targeted and arrested on false pretext and the fate of many more remain unknown due to restrictions on communication lines. Sources say in at least three counties in the eastern part of Nagchu Prefecture including Diru, all communication lines have been blocked and locals face enormous difficulty in contacting their friends and family.

 

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