Tibetan writer Tsultrim Gyaltsen, also known as Shokdril, and his friend Yulgyal, from Diru County, Eastern Tibet, have been sentenced to thirteen and ten years of prison respectively, according to a source from inside Tibet.
They were believed to have been sentenced on 28 October 2013.
On 27 September 2013, in defiance of the Chinese government, Tibetans, including those from Mowa and Monkhyim villages, Diru County, not only refused to fly the Chinese national flags, but also threw them in the Gyalmo Ngulchu (Salween/Nu) river.
Since then, Tibetans in the area have been protesting against the Chinese government policies.
On 28 September 2013, more than a thousand Tibetans gathered and launched hunger strikes throughout the night in front of the offices of the People’s Government in Diru County.
They were protesting in support of Tibetans illegally detained from Diru County’s Mowa and Monkhyim villages. The protestors called for the immediate release of these innocent Tibetans.
Tibetan students of lower and middle school in Diru County also participated in the protests. It is said that the schools remained empty of students for almost five days.
Fearing that the protests might spread to other areas, senior CCP officials from the TAR, including Wu Ying Jie and Dokthog arrived at Diru to calm the situation.
Through a combination of carrot and stick approach, Wu Yingjie appealed to the Tibetans to cease their hunger strikes.
However, as Wu Yingjie was speaking to the protestors, writer Shok Dril and his friend Yul Gyal stood up and gave expression to the aspirations and the suffering of the Tibetan people.
As a result, on 11 November 2013, around 1 am, security forces of Diru County forcibly entered Shok Dril’s home at Tengkhar village, without any prior warning, and arrested him.
In the morning of the next day, the security forces also arrested Shok Dril’s friend Yulgyal from his home at Tengkhar village.
Since their arrests, both young men disappeared until end of March 2014, when the Chinese authorities gave the permission for their family members to visit them at Lhasa’s Chushur prison.
Only then the family members became aware of Shok Dril and Yulgyal having been sentenced to thirteen and ten years of prison respectively.
The prison authorities allowed only ten minutes for the family members to talk to Shogdril and Yulgyal in prison.
The Chinese authorities said that the TAR People’s Court sentenced Shogdril and Yulgyal for expressing “illegal words to the government officials” and creating “social turmoil.” Both were denied due process of the law and their family members were not provided the court documents declaring their sentences.
Like Shogdril and Yugyal, many Tibetans in Tibet Autonomous Region are presently being arrested on charges of committing political crimes without any due process of law. Family members are denied court documents announcing their formal sentences, the source said.
After hearing the arrest of Shok Dril and Yulgyal, Tibetans from Tengkhar and Rishing villages, Bomphen Township, sent constant appeal letters to the Chinese authorities urging for their immediate release.
The authorities not only rejected the appeal, but also detained and imposed monetary fines on Tibetans who put forward the appeal letters.
At the end of 2013, many Tibetans were arrested from Diru County, Eastern Tibet. Out of them, it has been confirmed that around thirteen Tibetans had been sentenced to varied prison terms ranging from three to eighteen years.
Tsultrim Gyaltsen ttended primary school in Shamchu Township. In 2001, he became a monk and joined Palyul Monastery in Palyul (Ch: Baiyu) County in Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province where he learned about Buddhism and Tibetan culture and ancient sciences. He continued to study at Palyul until 2009. In 2009, he continued his studies at different Buddhist monasteries such as Shechen Monastery and Dzogchen Monastery (both in Dege County in Kardze); and Yachen Gar Monastery in Palyul County as well as Kirti Monastery in Ngaba (Ch: Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.
In 2009, Shogdril renounced his monastic vows and joined the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou, where he studied literature in Chinese translations for four years. However, in May 2013, Shogdril and some other students were expelled from the North West Nationality University after they were accused of illegally organising debates and discussions in the campus.
While at the university, along with some of his friends, he edited a magazine called ‘The New Generation,’ and also ran a blog in Chinese, on which he wrote a poem titled ‘Ugly Lhasa’ condemning the desecration of the sacred city Lhasa. Another controversial poem of Shogdril was called ‘God Must Die,’ in which he castigates the religious dogma and fundamentalism of the Tibetan people. His blog has been shut down since his arrest.
In June 2013, he returned to his hometown in Diru County, where he established a ‘New Generation Guest House.’ He also began teaching, for free of cost, Tibetan and Chinese language courses to young Tibetans. In 2007, he published two books titled ‘Chimes of Melancholic Snow’ and ‘Fate of the Snow Mountain,’ both of which were widely read and appreciated by the readers.
Yulgyal, 26, hails from Tengkhar Village in Shamchu Township, Diru County. He joined the Diru County Public Security Bureau as a policeman in 2005 and worked there for seven years. Given the complicated nature of police work in Tibet, he resigned from his service in 2012 and began engaging in small business to earn his living.
Yugyal has a wife named Lhakyi Dolma and two children.