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A Tibetan monk, arrested for celebrating HH the Dalai Lama’s birthday in 2015, released on critical health condition.

January 23, 2019

Central Tibetan Administration, January 21, 2019- Dharamshala: Choekyi, a Tibetan monk from Phugu Monastery, Serta (Ch: Seda) from Sichuan Province arrested in 2015 for celebrating His Holiness Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday was released due to his critical health condition, as per our source.

Choekyi was detained by the Chinese Security officials on June 19, 2015 as he shopped with his father wearing a t-shirt which had a message in Tibetan “kue-gya-ton-su”, roughly translated as, “Celebrating (His Holiness Dalai Lama’s) Eightieth Birthday”. He was charged with inciting “separatist activities” and was initially held in prison in Kangding County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Prefecture before transferring him to Sichuan’s Mianyang prison to serve 4 years sentence.

Before his detention, Choekyi was suffering from kidney ailment and other health-related issues. The torture in detention and the hard labour in prison made his condition much worse. There has been wide international call for his immediate release and medical attention. 

The European Parliament had adopted a resolution on 18 January 2018 inter alia calling the Chinese authorities for the immediate and unconditional release of Choekyi and “urged the Chinese Government to allow his relatives and the lawyers of his choice to visit him and, in particular, to provide him with adequate medical care.”

As per our source, Choekyi reached his home at Shosang Village, Nyitod Township, Serta County on 18 January 2019 at around 9 pm local time. The Chinese authorities threatened his family of dire consequences if they informed anybody beyond his immediate family about his release in order to prevent any kind of public gathering. The authorities allowed only his family members to pick him up and prohibited other Tibetans from receiving him from prison.

“Since his arrival, his house is under constant surveillance. Few security officials can be seen holding cameras to take pictures of the people visiting him,” reported our source.

China has often denounced His Holiness the Dalai Lama as “separatist” and possession of His picture is considered a crime let alone celebrating His birthday. The Human Rights Watch in its recent World Report 2019 has noted that Chinese authorities encouraged the “people to denounce members of their communities on the slightest suspicion of sympathy for the exiled Dalai Lama or opposition to the government” as part of China’s nationwide anti-crime campaign.

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