Tibetan monastic disciplinarian goes missing after arbitrary detention in Ngaba

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Konmey in his monastic robes in an undated photo.

The head disciplinarian of Trotsik Monastery was detained two weeks ago in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo, a reliable source informed TCHRD.

The 45-year-old disciplinarian, identified as Konmey, was arbitrarily taken into police custody around 20 July 2021. Since then, there has been no information on why and where he was detained. His whereabouts remain unknown.

It has come to light that Konmey’s recitation of prayers and mention of the number of prayers he had accumulated in a WeChat group might have caused the detention. A local Tibetan informed TCHRD that Konmey is someone who keeps a distance from anything political.

A native of Trotsik Village in Trotsik Township, Ngaba County, Konmey joined the monastery as a child.

TCHRD calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Konmey and an end to China’s widespread and systematic practice of arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearance to quell dissent in Tibet.

Enforced disappearance violates a range of human rights including the right to life, liberty, and security of person, right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, right to humane conditions of detention, and right to a fair trial.

According to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, “enforced disappearance is considered to be the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or the acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which places such a person outside the protection of the law.”

Article 1 of the convention states that no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance and “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance.”

In a public statement issued in March last year, a group of 10 UN Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups expressed “alarm at the ongoing use of RSDL [Residential Surveillance in a Designated Location] in China,” despite the fact that “RSDL is not compatible with international human rights law. As a form of enforced disappearance, RSDL allows authorities to circumvent ordinary processes provided for by the criminal law, and detain individuals in an undisclosed location for up to six months, without trial or access to a lawyer. This puts individuals at heightened risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

“The Chinese authorities must provide evidence to justify Konmey’s detention or release him immediately,” said Ms. Tenzin Sangmo, researcher at TCHRD. “This illegal form of detention violates a range of human rights not just of the detainee but also his loved ones who meet a dark wall of secrecy and silence when attempting to know the truth behind their loved one’s disappearance.”