A Tibetan nomad was imprisoned for one year on 14 December 2020 after being held in detention for five months, reported Radio Free Asia. Lhundhup Dorje is a 30-year old nomad from Gangri Village, Machen County (Ch: Maqin County), which is located in eastern Tibet and governed as part of Qinghai Province.
Lhundup was sentenced after posting a photo and video of the Dalai Lama’s teachings on social media.
Sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, explained that prior to his arrest on 23 July 2019, Lhundup Dorje had posted a series of messages on Weibo, China’s most popular microblogging site, that attracted the attention of authorities.
On 5 February, he posted new year greetings to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), a democratically-elected body located in India that supports Tibetans in exile and works towards restoring freedom in Tibet. Then the day after Tibet’s National Uprising Day, on 11 March, he posted statements calling for Tibet’s independence. Lastly, on 3 May, he posted a photo of the young Dalai Lama.
His desire for freedom and deep reverence towards the Dalai Lama was charged with inciting “separatism” by the Golog People’s Intermediate Court of Qinghai Province. The decision ruled that even upon release, he would not be allowed to exercise his political rights for a year. Lhundup is said to have accepted the charges without requesting an appeal.
While photos of the Dalai Lama are banned in Tibet, Tibetans inside Tibet are often portrayed as happy villagers with Xi Jinping’s photo in their homes for Chinese propaganda.
Tibetans inside Tibet also use WeChat, a heavily censored social media platform that used to be the primary mode of communication for Tibetans in and outside Tibet. Last year, amid growing border tension between India and China, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps, including WeChat. In such a climate of engineered content and ruptured communication, Tibetans in exile struggle to maintain ties with their families in Tibet.