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Arbitrary detention intensified for exile Tibetan returnees

According to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy,(TCHRD). Chinese authorities in Tibet have arbitrarily detained and slapped heavy fine on Tibetan returnees from exile in India without any formal political charges. As in the past many young and minor Tibetans brave various obstacles to seek freedom of religious practice in monasteries or to join educational institutions set up by Tibetan exile government in India with impending objective of returning to Tibet.

Gedun Tsundue, a monk of  “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture,”(TAP) Qinghai Province, escaped into exile and joined Kirti monastery based in Dharamsala and Jamphel Gyatso, a monk of Jadel Khangtsen of Sera Jhe Monastery in South India returned to Tibet after completing their studies in February 2004. According to confirmed information received by the Center, both were reported to be arbitrarily detained for four months before being handed over to the concerned Chinese authorities in Golog Region and fined 4,500 Yuan each.

Another instance of arbitrary detention was also reported that two monks of Ragya Monastery: Gedun Rabgyal and Woeser Thaye, both came into exile and studied at Jadel Khangtsen, Sera Jhe monastery in south India. While on their return to Tibet both were detained for four months along with four lay persons and another group of monks before being handed over to the authorities of their respective places and were fined 4000 yuan each by the Chinese authorities.

A similar case was also reported that, Sherab, a monk of Jadel Khangtsen in Sera Jhe Monastery came into exile in 2003. On his return journey to his native place in Tibet June this year, Sherab was detained at Dram, Nepal-Tibet border and currently there is no detail information on his whereabouts and well-being.

The latest information indicates that Tibetan monks, returning to Tibet upon completion of their studies in monasteries face arbitrary detention and monetary fine without any formal political charges by the Chinese authorities. This contravenes article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” and article 13(2) of the same declaration states: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and  to return to his country.” China being a permanent member of the United Nations is obligated to respect the rights of Tibetan to travel between countries and have right from arbitrary arrest and detention..

Ragya Monastery in the recent past has been active epicentre of peaceful political activities. Many of its inmates were arrested and serving long prison sentences. In 2001, the Chinese authorities arrested four former monks of the monastery-Kunchok Dhargay, Mathok Damchoe, Tsultrim Phuntsok and Sonam Gyatso while on their return journey to their native place from India. The four have been charged with having contact with the secret organization named “Freedom in Tibet” and with the late Lobsang Dargyal, and for distributing pictures of Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama chosen by the Dalai Lama. They were sentenced to five to six years’ imprisonment terms.

In the year 2000, waves of withdrawal of exile students from various schools in India were reported following the intensification of 1994 ban on children of cadres and government employees going to schools administered by Tibetan exile government. Thirty-seven children in total returned to Tibet. Tibetan returnees from India are invariably seen as ‘splittist’ ‘Dalai clique’ and ‘politically suspect’. Parents were threatened with punitive measures including sanctions, expulsion from jobs and the party, freeze in promotion and salary increase and forfeiting the residential permit of their children. Most of them took up jobs as tourist guides upon their return. Unfortunately, the subsequent crackdown left 29 tour guides from exile jobless. While restriction intensified to bring back children from exile studying in Tibetan schools in exile, employment opportunities were strictly denied to exile returnees.

Beijing authorities view the Dalai Lama as the root cause of instability in Tibet and have labelled the monasteries and nunneries as “hotbed of political dissent”. Since 1994, after the Third Tibet Work Forum was held, anti-Dalai Lama campaign have been stepped up vigorously in various forms in Tibet. The anti-Dalai Lam campaign involves ban on portraits and celebration of the Dalai Lama’s birthday, severe sentences and punishments for expressing faith and support for the Dalai Lama. The campaign is aimed to minimize or to erode influence of the Dalai Lama as Beijing authorities link

Tibetan Buddhism with Tibetan nationalism. In that context, the Tibetan exile returnees are viewed with suspicion for having affinity with political ideologies of the Dalai Lama or for possible involvement in political activities which China considers as “endangering State security”. For Beijing, national stability is of paramount importance and in the course of maintaining that stability, violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms of Tibetan occur.

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