Monk sentenced to two years for keeping and sharing Dalai Lama’s photos

Gomar Choephel

A Tibetan monk from Rongwo Monastery in Rebkong has been sentenced to two years for keeping and sharing photos of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama in Rebkong (Ch: Tongren) County, Malho (Ch: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. The verdict came after the monk was subjected to seven months long secret detention.
On 17 February 2016, the Malho Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Gomar Choephel to two years imprisonment under the charges that he “threatened social stability” and “engaged in separatist activities”. The real reason for his imprisonment was he had kept and shared Dalai Lama’s photos on social networking sites. He is being held at a detention centre in Dragmar area in Rebkong. The authorities have informed the monk’s family members that they could meet him after ten days from the day of sentencing.
TCHRD reported earlier on the arbitrary detention of Gomar Choephel from his monastery on 10 July 2015. Before taking him into custody, Chinese security personnel ransacked his room and searched through his personal belongings.
After seven months of secret detention during which he was subjected to interrogations, beatings and torture to extract forced confession, the court sentenced him to prison without following due process of law.
The arbitrary detention and unjust imprisonment of Tibetan Buddhist devotees for keeping and sharing Dalai Lama’s photos violate the fundamental right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion as guaranteed in Chinese and International Law. By criminalising the act of worshipping one’s spiritual leader, the Chinese authorities have further confirmed that religious repression has worsened to an entirely new level in Tibet.
Gomar Choephel, 47, was born in Gomar Village in Nyenthog (Ch: Nianduhu) Township in Rebgong (Ch: Tongren) County. He became monk at a young age and joined the Thoesam Norling College at Rongwo Monastery. At the time his detention, he was a student of the Vinaya class in the monastery’s college.

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