Writer sentenced to two years in prison after secret trial

Monlam Gyatso had been held in detention for over 14 months before his trial

Monlam Gyatso, a prominent Tibetan writer and volunteer teacher, has been sentenced to two years imprisonment for only promoting Tibetan Buddhist ethical values.

According to information received by Tibet Watch, Monlam Gyatso, 46, was handed a two-year prison sentence in early September following a secret trial by a Chinese court in Serta County in eastern Tibet.

Monlam Gyatso

Monlam Gyatso

Monlam Gyatso, who hails from Rag-Tam township in Serta County, Kardze Prefecture, was arbitrarily arrested by Chinese police personnel on 9 June 2021. According to the source, his arrest was probably in connection with his promotion of the Tibetan Buddhist ethic of “Ten virtuous actions” but in the absence of complete information it’s difficult to ascertain the full details of his case. It is now learned that he was held incommunicado for one year and three months before secret trials were held.

The same source further said that Monlam teaches Tibetan language and grammar in Tibetan areas in Tibet and that he is one of nine Tibetan volunteers at “Lhaksam Committee”,which was set up in 2007 to teach the Tibetan and Chinese languages and social education, including introducing Tibetan Buddhist knowledge across Tibet.

Monlam Gyatso has published many books including (Flute Alone in the Morning)<<ཞོགས་ཁའི་སྨྱུག་གླིང་ཁེར་འབུད།>> (Rhododendron Flower)<<སྟག་མའི་མེ་ཏོག>> (Elocution)<<ངག་གི་རྩལ།>>  (Broken Mirrors)<< མེ་ལོང་ཆག་རོ།>> (The History of Rag-Tam Shampa Ling Monastery)<<རབ་བཀྲམ་བྱམས་པ་གླིང་གི་ལོ་རྒྱུས།>> using pen-names such as “Sothern White Incense” (ལྷོ་སྤོས་དཀར།) or “Umbrella” (ཆར་གདུགས།). He has also edited various literature magazines in the Tibetan language.

Having joined Rag-Tam Shampa Ling Monastery as a child, he later studied for some years at Larung Gar Buddhist Institute. Some years ago, he set up a private school near Rag-Tam Shampa Ling Monastery named Shereb Lophel School, where he served in a dual role of administrator as well as Tibetan language teacher.

Monlam Gyatso’s case is representative of the Chinese government’s total antipathy towards Tibetan language and Buddhist values, both of which it has tightly restricted while imposing intensive sinicisation policies across Tibet. Tibetans promoting their distinct and unique linguistic, religious and cultural identity routinely face arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention,secret trials and ultimately, prison sentences.

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