“Forced to live like a prisoner on the run in my own homeland”: Tibetan feminist Jamyang Kyi protests confiscation of books and relentless harassment by Chinese authorities

Jamyang Kyi

Famous Tibetan feminist Jamyang Kyi (penname: Mindruk/Six Stars) who is known for many incisive writings on women and social issues has recently written on social media protesting the confiscation of several books that she had authored. A translated book by her husband Lhamo Kyab (penname: Jhangkar/North Star) was also among those confiscated.

Two posts written by Jamyang Kyi have appeared recently on social media in which the writer, singer and former journalist strongly criticised the manner in which her books and her husband’s book were forcibly taken away by unknown officials from bookstores in Lhasa city and Siling (Ch: Xining) city.

In the post dated 17 November, Kyi wrote about the confiscation of 1040 copies of “Separation of Powers and Protection of Rights” (Kyab’s translation of a Chinese book) and “Rights and Wellbeing” (authored by Kyi) by a group of 10 officials from a bookstore in Siling on 16 November. An unspecified number of copies of the latter were also confiscated from another bookstore in Siling. The officials’ excuse for confiscating the book “Rights and Wellbeing” was that the Tibetan and Chinese translations of the book’s title were different.

Jamyang Kyi’s frustration is palpable in the 17 November post as she questions the authorities about the never-ending harassment and persecution she and her family have been subjected to since her arbitrary detention and subsequent release in 2008. “Months and years have gone by and it’s now been almost 10 years but there is no respite and no end to this [harassment]: disrupting my mental peace, disturbing my livelihood, and harassing my family and children. What is the aim behind this constant attempt to destroy our livelihood? Why? Why? This land is my fatherland and motherland, and yet I live here like a prisoner on the run.”

In the 30 September post, Kyi explained how on 28 September, she was deceived into handing over 200 copies of the above-mentioned books to a fake buyer in Lhasa. All copies were later confiscated by a group of officials from the bookstore in Lhasa. From the same bookstore, copies of another book authored by Kyi called “Power of Heart, Eye of Business” were also confiscated.

Below is a translation of the post Kyi wrote on 30 September:

On 28 September, I was told [by our agent] that someone had contacted a bookstore [in Lhasa] to buy 100 copies each of the two books written [separately] by my husband and me. We delivered the books on time. But we could not contact the buyer, so we left the books at the store and asked the storeowner to let the buyer know that we would accept the payment online. But the buyer could not be contacted. This afternoon, the agent called and told me that some six to seven people representing some offices visited the bookstore yesterday and took away 200 copies of “Separation of Powers and Protection of Rights” and “Rights and Wellbeing”. They also took away copies of another book I authored called “Power of Heart, Eye of Business” from the same bookstore. At the time, I thought I had been cheated by the person who had [purportedly] ordered the books. But it is difficult to say for sure.

Anyway, today at another bookstore in Lhasa, there was a search conducted for two of my books: “Mixture of Snow and Rain, Joy and Sorrow of Women” and “Analysing Women’s Condition,”. Based on the incident that happened yesterday [the unexplained confiscation of books], it looks like the problem is not really about the books [or their contents] but a well-planned design to target the authors.

Jhangkar’s book was a Tibetan translation of a Chinese book. Since many readers are already aware of the contents of this book, I don’t have to say much.

If they don’t return us the books, it would cost us RMB 6300. Even if we are not very concerned about the financial loss, it deeply saddens my heart to think that undeserved obstacles might threaten the survival of a newborn [metaphor for the newly published books]. More worrying is the thought that they might take away the small speck of freedom we have in expressing our condition in writing.

Jamyang Kyi was born in 1965 in Mangra (Ch: Guinan) County in Tsolho (Ch: Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo. In 1984, she graduated from Hainan Prefecture Minorities Teacher Training Institute. For more than two decades, she had worked as a translator, reporter and news presenter for the Tibetan language television channel, Qinghai TV station. She is also a popular singer and writer and an outspoken feminist. Briefly in 2006, she was a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City. She was one of the most prominent Tibetans arrested during the 2008 uprising in Tibet. She was arbitrarily detained 1 April and released on 21 April after paying a huge fine. She later published, “A Sequence of Tortures”, an account of her detention in Chinese custody.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) calls on the Chinese authorities to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Jamyang Kyi and her family and to stop harassing and persecuting them. Jamyang Kyi has suffered long enough; she had been fired from her job as a journalist after her detention and was placed under government surveillance since then. Chinese authorities must refrain from violating the right to freedom of expression of Jamyang Kyi and her husband Lhamo Kyab in deference to the PRC’s Constitution and laws as well as its international human rights obligations.

Photo of Kyi’s 30 September post
Photo of Kyi’s 17 November post
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