Detention of missing Tibetan monk confirmed

Rinchen Tsultrim
Rinchen Tsultrim
2nd December 2020

Reports have confirmed that Rinchen Tsultrim was arrested in August 2019

A Tibetan monk who has been missing since August 2019 is being held in detention. Reports from sources in Dharamsala, including Phayul and Voice of America, have revealed that Rinchen Tsultrim from Ngaba County in eastern Tibet was detained last year. This has been confirmed by Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch.

The information was obtained from a fellow Tibetan from Ngaba, who is now in India. According to the source, Rinchen Tsultrim, along with two other monks, were detained by Chinese authorities on 1 August 2019. The two other monks were released after a few days but Rinchen remained in detention.

Tibet Watch has obtained an official notice from Ngaba National Security Bureau, dated 23 March 2020, stating that Rinchen Tsultrim was charged with inciting separatism, a state security crime. According to a source spoken to by Tibet Watch, Rinchen Tsultrim was accused of publishing articles on Tibet issues on his WeChat account.

The authorities have refused to share any information about his whereabouts and there are now serious concerns regarding his well-being.   

Rinchen Tsultrim's official detention notice from March 2020
Rinchen Tsultrim's official detention notice from March 2020
Rinchen Tsultrim's official detention notice from March 2020

Rinchen Tsultrim is a 29-year old monk from the renowned Nangshie Monastery in Ngaba County. Prior to his arrest he was known to be a strong advocate of Tibetan language preservation. He is known to the Chinese authorities from earlier detentions in 2018. He has been particularly active in promoting the Tibetan language among Tibetans in exile using the micro-messaging app WeChat. He was accused of unlawful separatist communication with Tibetans in exile, in addition to trafficking of religious books into Tibet.

In 2019, Rinchen Tsultrim was detained again for communicating with Tibetans in exile on the day of the 11th Panchen Lama’s birthday. Since then, he has been banned from using any micro-messaging app and his website with many personal narratives on Tibet has been shut down.   

Rinchen Tsultrim became a monk from an early age and hails from a humble farming family, with five siblings. According to the source, his sister, who is in India, is under close scrutiny after being labelled as an activist in exile. On her WeChat, the authorities have even put on the profile picture of her detained brother as a warning and his family in Tibet are said to be under constant pressure from the Chinese authorities.

Ngaba County is in Amdo Province, currently administered as the Chinese province of Sichuan. It is known as the ‘County of Protest’ and has been the centre of numerous self-immolation protests, especially among young Tibetans. Over the past decade, 156 cases of self –immolation have been reported across Tibet, 44 of which were from Ngaba County. Ngaba therefore remains a heavily monitored part of Tibet.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch.

Take action

Between 2011 and 2016, Tibet was ruled by Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who imposed a range of repressive measures to crack down on Tibetans and erradicate their culture. He has now been given free reign to inflict these policies on the Uyghur people. His crimes demand action - tell the UK to impose sanctions on Chen.