TIBETAN WRITER AND POET DETAINED – WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN

Gendun Lhundrup was arrested in eastern Tibet in early December

A Tibetan writer has been arrested and detained in northeastern Tibet. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA) and PhayulGendun Lhundrup, a 46-year-old monk and popular Tibetan writer and a poet, was arrested on 2 December in Rebkong County in Malho. His current whereabouts are unknown.

An anonymous Tibetan source in exile revealed that the Chinese authorities had been monitoring his activities for signs of political dissent over a long period of time. Gendun has also been detained several times in the past.

Gendun is known to be passionate about preserving Tibetan culture and language, and his written work has proved popular among Tibetans both in Tibet and exile. Despite limited freedom to express his thoughts, he followed his heart as a writer and released an anthology of poems titled ‘Khorwa’ in October 2020. He also contributed his writings to a website called Waseng-drak, which promotes freedom of expression for writer and artists.

Numerous Tibetan writers, singers and artists promoting Tibetan identity and culture are in detention, and those convicted of state security offences like “inciting separatism” face long prison sentences.  In June 2020, Lhundrub Drakpa aged 36, was sentenced to six years in prisonfor performing the song “Black Hat”, which denounced years of repressive policies and practices resulting in a series of human rights violation and acts of ‘crimes against humanity’ in Driru and neighbouring Sog County in central Tibet. He spent his pre-trial detention in prison for more than a year without access to any legal representation.

Tibetans are focusing on language rights to assert their national identity with informal language courses but these are deemed as ‘illegal associations’ in the eyes of the Chinese authorities. The RFA source commented that teachers of such language courses are being subjected to detentions and arrests. Tashi Wangchuk, a  Tibetan language advocate, continues to serve a five-year prison sentence after was arrested in January 2016.