Monk disappears after emailing protest writings to Chinese cadres’ phones

Choeying Kalden
Choeying Kalden

A Tibetan monk has disappeared after sending emails containing his writings criticizing Chinese rule to the mobile phones of Chinese cadres stationed at Tsenden Monastery in Sog (Ch: Suo) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Sources told TCHRD that Choeying Kalden, 20, a monk at Tsenden Monastery was detained by Sog County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers on 16 March 2014. The monk had shared his writings among his friends as well as Chinese ‘work team’ members through emails.

It is still not known where he is detained. Local Tibetans believe that he had been taken to Nagchu area although the exact location of his detention is not known.

Choeying Kalden, whose lay name is Athog, hails from Yeggu Village of Yagla (Ch: Yala) Township in Sog County and is the son of Mr Lhakhyil and Mrs Bumsang. He often used to write essays and poems on Tibetan culture and identity under the pseudonym Sog Thug (Eng: ‘Mongolian Child’). Some of his writings have now become available outside Tibet and are being shared through the popular instant messaging app WeChat owned by Chinese company Tencent (see images).

TCHRD has translated and edited some of the monks’ writings in which he condemns new repressive campaigns implemented by the Chinese authorities in recent years such as the ongoing campaign of forcing Tibetans to fly the red-starred Chinese flags on rooftops.

Below is a selected translation of Choeying Kalden’s writings that made their way into Chinese cadres’ mobile phones:

It is karma that communists stamped their footprints
On the stone pillar of the white snow mountains
It is karma that communists are losing their ground
In today’s world of information and technology

You may own the doors of our mouth and tongue
But our heart shall always belong to the Lama
The five-starred red flag may be hoisted on the Land of Snows
But the symbol of Tibet will be the Snow Lion

Surrounded by hubris and lies the communist hordes
Indulge in trickery as the wind of change blows
Day and night they spew lies masquerading as news
Witnessing them our hearts swell with pride

The path of democracy that the world treads today
Has become the yoke of the Chinese Communist authorities
This victorious non-violent resistance
Is the glory of the red-faced Tibetan people

Call me a narcissist hungry for name and fame
Or an ignoramus pretending to be wise
I have made this pledge to advocate to the world
The joy and suffering of the red-faced Tibetan people

The martyrs who offer their bodies to fire
Musicians who compose songs of joy and suffering
Scholars who pursue freedom through pen
For them I shall always offer Mani. 

My body belongs to Tibet
My mind belongs to Tibet
I whose body and mind belong to Tibet
Shall never loosen my fist of solidarity

In recent months, Sog County has witnessed a wave of arbitrary arrests and random searches. A considerable number of both monastic and lay Tibetans have been detained and disappeared.

Sog County neighbours Diru( Ch: Biru) County which has been subjected to repressive campaigns by the Chinese authorities all through 2013.

Choeying Kalden’s writings now being circulated on the popular Chinese owned messaging ap WeChat

On 14 March 2014, Gedun Drakpa, 20, a monk at Sog Tsenden Monastery was detained after red-starred Chinese flags were set on fire and graffiti on Tibetan independence were scrawled over the walls of the houses where the permanent Chinese work teams were stationed. Gedun Drakpa hails from Yang-nge Village of Yagla Township in Sog County.

On the night of 17 March 2014, four monks including Tsangyang Gyatso, the umze (chant master) of Drilda Monastery were detained. The three other monks are identified as Tsewang, Atse and Gyaltsen. They continue to be detained incommunicado. To petition for their release, six monks of the monastery approached the Trido (Ch: Chiduo) Township government office but they were detained. Although they were released on 20 March, the monks had been severely beaten up during their brief detention. A source said, “The monks had sustained serious injuries; they had become too weak to stand on their feet and were taken to their homes supported by local Tibetans.” Due to extreme restrictions on communication channels, TCHRD cannot immediately identify the monks.

Drilda monks continue to become targets of arbitrary detention and interrogation because the authorities suspect their involvement in pasting leaflets carrying Tibetan freedom messages on a nearby iron bridge.

Drilda Monastery is under lockdown after the arrival of paramilitary officers who keep a watch on the movements of the monks.

In Trido Township, paramilitary and police forces have been deployed to intensify restrictions. The crackdown has spread to the ten villages located in Trido Township where local Tibetans are subjected to random searches and questioning. About two to three police check posts have been set up between each village. For instance, there are three police check posts spanning 12 kms from Trido Town to Drilda Monastery.

On 28 March 2014, two Tibetan laymen Rinchen Wangdue of Pelha Tsang household and Phurtse of Gajig Tsang household were detained in Village No. 4 of Trido Township for sharing news related to the crackdown through email. The same day, Adey, a monk of Drilda Monastery was detained.

Another set of Choeying Kalden's writings now being shared on WeChat
Another set of Choeying Kalden’s writings now being shared on WeChat

On 6 March 2014, Chinese security forces arrested five Tibetans who are identified as Kelsang Tsultrim and Thupten Palden, both monks from Drilda Monastery; and laymen Norbu Dhondup, Monlam Gyatso and Tsering Tharpa from Dowa Village. They were arrested for allegedly providing pictures and information related to Tibetan protests to the outside world.

Kalsang Tsultrim had earlier been detained in May 2012 and imprisoned for a year in a prison at Toelung Dechen County near Lhasa. He had recently been released from prison.

On 14 March 2014, two Tibetan youths Tsering Samphel, 18, and Drakpa whose age is unknown, were arrested from Triru Village in Sog County. Sources say they were arrested for sharing songs of famous Tibetan singer Sherten through mobile phones. Police took them away to an unknown location.

On 13 March 2014, Chinese security forces arrested two monks from Drilda monastery – Lobsang Dhargay, 19 and Lungtok Gyaltsen, 18. They were arrested while they were returning from Chunpa Village, where they had gone to buy provisions for the monastery, to celebrate the Buddhist holy month. They were arrested on the suspicion that they were involved in writing the message on a boulder near the iron bridge.

On 3 February 2014, five Tibetan youths from Village No. 3 in Trido Township were arrested as police expanded its search for those responsible for writing the message. Of them, three – Sisum Dorje, Lhakpa and Jamyang Gyatso – were released and ordered to report daily to the Trido Township government office. The location and status of the other two – Asang and Margong – remain unknown despite persistent efforts by family members and local Tibetans.

Four monks from Shartsa Monastery in Dowa Village, who were arrested on 4 February 2014, remain missing. They are believed to have been arrested in connection with the message written on a boulder.

A Tibetan man, Gawa Sangpo from Yeggu Village of Yagla Township has been in police detention since January 2013 without being charged with a crime. He has been held in Sog County Detention Centre since his arrest. Gawa Sangpo was arrested for penning a ‘three-point note on Tibet.’ The issues he raised in the note are:

1. Expressing his faith in the Dalai Lama, whom he considers as the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people

2. Recognition of Lobsang Sangay as the political leader of the Tibetan people and thus follow his words

3. Tibet is an independent nation, so we want independence.

According to sources, Dawa Sangpo had expressed three principal regrets:

1. That the Chinese police arrested him before he was able to commit self-immolation

2. That he could not raise the Tibetan National Flag on the Potala Palace in Lhasa

3. That he could not set fire to the Chinese National Flag

Chinese law requires that a detainee be charged or released within a week of being detained or up to 30 days if the case involves multiple crimes in different places. Gawa Sangpo has now been detained for about 16 months without being charged. While in detention, he suffered severe beating and torture at the hands of security forces. It has taken a year for friends and family to find out about Gawa Sangpo’s detention during which he suffered beatings and torture, according to sources.

Sangpo’s detention, like the detention of the other Tibetans from Sog, violates basic human rights standards that prohibit arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and torture.