Chinese police arrest three Tibetan pilgrims over state secrets — Radio Free Asia

Chinese authorities in Sichuan province have arrested three Tibetan Buddhists who they believe were in possession of “politically sensitive information” as they returned from a pilgrimage, Tibetan sources in exile said.

Asang, Dodra and Nortso were interrogated by police on Jan. 10 as they returned home from the sprawling Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy in Serta (Chinese, Seda) county in Sichuan and then arrested, it said. a source at RFA’s Tibetan service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Their mobile phones were examined by police from Draggo (Luhuo) County in Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and all three were arrested for ‘possession of politically sensitive information and images,'” a said the source.

“They were handed over to the police in Chamdo [prefecture] and are currently being held at the Chamdo police station.

A second Tibetan in exile, who also declined to be named, told RFA that the contents of their phones were linked to the destruction since late last month of a three-story statue of Maitreya Buddha at the Gaden Namyal monastery. Ling to Draco.

“They were questioned by police in Drago when they were arrested,” the source said.

“Police reviewed all of the group chat apps on their cell phones and accused them of keeping videos and photos of the recent destruction of the Buddhist statue of Draco and also using those images as background. ‘screensaver.”

Confirmation of the removal of the statue of Maitreya, believed by Tibetan Buddhists to be a Buddha appearing in a future era, follows RFA’s verification earlier this month of the destruction of a 99-foot-tall statue in 900 meters (2,700 ft).

Chinese authorities forced monks from local monasteries and Tibetans living in nearby towns to witness the demolition of the statue and 45 traditional prayer wheels, which began on December 12 and continued for the next nine days. , Tibetan sources in exile said, citing contacts in the region.

The three-story statue and the structure that housed it were both demolished around the same time as the 99-foot Buddha, which authorities said was too tall, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA, citing contacts to Draco.

Drago County Chief Wang Dongsheng was present when the statue was torn down and witnessed police brutally beat local Tibetans opposed to the demolition, sources said. Wang had previously overseen a campaign to destroy the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in a move that saw thousands of monks and nuns expelled and homes destroyed.

Other arrests of Draco

Chinese authorities maintain a strict lockdown on the flow of information in and out of Tibetan areas of the country, and it often takes weeks to learn of arrests and other incidents across the exile community.

A third exile source recently told RFA that authorities also arrested a Buddhist nun named Lobsang Tsomo and “a few other Tibetans” in Drago County on September 18 last year “for communicating with Tibetans in exile. “.

“They were beaten and tortured while in prison and released after more than three months,” the source said.

“Despite their release, Lobsang Tsomo and others who have been released from prison are not allowed to leave their county and remain under the control of the authorities,” they added.

The destruction of statues in Drago County and other religious sites signals China’s growing control over traditional Tibetan religious practice and growing attempts by Beijing to recast Tibetan Buddhism as a Chinese faith, experts and observers say. .

Once an independent nation, Tibet was forcibly invaded and incorporated into China 70 years ago.

Tibetans living in Tibet and Tibetan areas in western provinces of China frequently complain of political, economic and religious discrimination as well as human rights abuses and say they fear that Beijing is pursuing ever-increasing policies aggressive measures aimed at eradicating their national and cultural identity.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan Service. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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