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Tibetan teacher 'disappears' into Chinese gulag

July 12, 2010

Jane Macartney
The Times (UK)
July 7, 2010

Beijing -- A young Tibetan teacher has become the
sixth member of a single family to vanish into
the Chinese gulag in the past few months as
officials clamp down on anyone seen as defying
their authority. Zhaxi Duojia, who is in his
early 30s, was taken from a house in Lhasa by
about a dozen police on Monday night.

At the heart of the case are Mr Zhaxi's cousins
-- three brothers -- who are environmental
activists who have been jailed in the past few months.

The most well-known, the philanthropist Karma
Samdrup, who has been hailed by Beijing as a
model Tibetan, was sentenced last month to 15 years for graverobbing.

The eldest brother, Rinchen Dorje, was imprisoned
for five years on Saturday for the crime of
"splitting the country". The youngest of the
three brothers, Chime Namgyal, is serving 21
months of re-education through labour on the
charge of "harming national security".

Chinese officials have hinted to members of the
family and their supporters that the entire case
revolves around Mr Karma and the prominence of
the antique collector, dealer and environmentalist in Tibetan society.

Mr Zhaxi was visiting the capital of the
Himalayan region from his home in Tibet's eastern
Chamdo region to try to discover the whereabouts
of Rinchen Dorje, a cousin of the same name.

The young teacher wanted to hire a lawyer to help
to find Mr Rinchen, a monk who was arrested in
March while meditating in a cave as part of his hermit vows.

Mr Zhaxi traced the monk to a hospital in the the
far western region of Xinjiang, where he had been treated for burns.

Police told them he had sustained burns from an
electric baton while trying to escape and had
since been returned to Tibet. The family has had no further word of him.

It was the detention of Mr Karma's two
environmentalist brothers in August last year --
after they had accused police in eastern Tibet of
poaching endangered species -- that started the police hunt.

Mr Karma rushed to the defence of his brothers,
angering local authorities. About 20 of the
brothers' Tibetan neighbours and friends
travelled to Beijing to plead for the two
brothers and were returned home by police who held them for 40 days.

One man, Silang Qupei, in his 60s, and another
cousin of the brothers was ruled to be a
ringleader and ordered to serve 18 months of re-education through labour.

Mr Karma's wife, Zhenga Cuomao, wrote in a blog
today: "I don't know what this threat and terror
now proliferating like cancer cells will bring to
our family... Zhaxi Duojia is the only person
from Zirong village with an education. I appeal
to Buddha and to the world to help to find him!"

---------------------------------
Clarifying Email note from Robert Barnett on July 8, 2010 [WTNN Editor]

Names: Tashi Dhogyal (Zhaxi Duojia) is the wrong
name (and not an  auspicious one!) - his name is
Tashi Topgyal. He is the teacher from the township who has now been detained.

The other name is not Rinchen Dhogyal (Duojie)
but Rinchen Dorje. Rinchen Dorje, the monk who
has been missing since March, who was  Karma's
translator 12 years ago in Xinjiang, is a cousin of Karma's.

Tashi Topgyal is a half-brother of Rinchen's.

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