Arrests in Rebkong

In 1995 Lobsang Lungtok, a monk, was arrested for independence activities. After 18 months imprisonment he was expelled from his monastery in April this year. In January 1997 three other monks and one layman were arrested on similar grounds.

22 year-old Lobsang Lungtok, from Rebkong county (Ch: Qinghai province), Amdo, joined Rongpo Gonchen monastery at the age of seven. There are a total of 500 monks in the monastery.

One night in March 1995, Lobsang pasted wall posters at the the Rebkong monastery and the nearby Teacher Training School. Lobsang had been inspired to act after listening to the VOA Tibetan news service that exile Tibetans were planning to undertake a peace march to Lhasa.

The posters read: “Tibetans and Chinese are distinct in every sphere of life”; “Tibet is an independent country with a recorded history. Thousands of Tibetans died as a direct consequence of Chinese occupation of Tibet”; “All valuable religious artifacts, gold statues and antiques have been hijacked into China”; “Sinocisation policies including birth control are being implemented with an aim to completely eliminate Tibetans as a race” and “Chinese stop wanton destruction of Tibetan environment”.

Ten days later, PSB officials came to arrest Lobsang. Not at the monastery at that time, he was finally arrested on 5 June 1995 and taken to Rebkong county prison. Chinese officials told him, “You are now convicted, therefore if you provide us with the names of anyone who is propagating Tibetan independence we can help you.”

Lobsang refused and was subsequently sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for two years. While in prison he was frequently beaten and was served meals just once in the morning and once at night.

In January 1997, independence wall posters and the Tibetan national flag began appearing in the courtyard of the Teacher Training School and in the monasteries. Lobsang reports that three Rebkong monks named Gedun Dhondup (senior), Gedun Dhondup (junior) and Dakpa Gyaltsen, and one layman named Menpa Dorjee, were arrested in March 1997 for their involvement.

Gedun Dhondup senior and junior were released in May after one month, and it is believed that Dakpa Gyaltsen may also have been released. Menpa Dorjee is said to be still in detention. There are reports that more arrests are to follow.

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