Tibetan woman arrested for keeping Dalai Lama’s photo at home

Zumkar’s well-being remains unknown after she was arrested and taken nearly 500 kilometres away from her home

Chinese police arrested a Tibetan woman named Zumkar on 23 June 2022, after finding her in possession of a photo of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.

The arrest took place at her home where the police found a photo of the Dalai Lama on an altar, a sacred part of Tibetan households where religious objects like statues and scripture are kept, and prayers are offered. Four days later, on 28 June, the police transferred her nearly 500 kilometres away to Lhasa, a 12-hour drive south from her hometown of Tsarang Township, Amdo County in Nagchu. Other residences in the area are also known to have been investigated by the authorities for photos of the Dalai Lama.

Sources described 27-year-old Zumkar, mother of two, as being a devout Buddhist committed to observing prayers. She grew up as a daughter of nomads in Nagchu, a region of alpine grassland in central Tibet which has been undergoing profound transformation in its sustainable, traditional pastoralist culture as a result of Chinese state policies of grazing ban and reduction of livestock numbers.

Two days before her arrest, Chinese state media reported that 26,304 people from three counties in Nagchu- including Zumkar’s home county- will be “relocated” between 25 June and 11 August to a resettlement site constructed 13 hours drive south on the banks of Yarlung Tsangpo river in Lhoka. Numerous reports of resettlement in the past not only reveal the process to be lacking consultation with the affected population, but the large-scale transfer, which the policy documents describe as “orderly withdrawal”, is often enforced, leading the Tibetans thereby to the loss of a sustainable income source and becoming dependent on state subsidies.

Images of the Dalai Lama, who turns 87 years old this week, are banned in Tibet.


Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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