Environmentalist in ‘near-death’ condition after torture in custody

Dhongye
15th December 2021

Dhongye has been in detention since 2018 with little information about his condition until now

According to a Tibet Watch source, Tibetan environmentalist Dhongye is in a ‘near-death’ condition after beatings and torture while in Chinese police custody in Driru County in the area of Tibet governed as the Tibet Autonomous Region. There are currently no further details about his whereabouts.

Dhongye has been in custody since he was arrested on 2nd April 2018, along with 29 other Tibetans in Driru County after news about the detention of another Tibetan, Karma, the leader of Markor Village, also in Driru County, when details of opposition to a Chinese government mining project was shared outside Tibet. Since they were detained there has been no information about Dhongyu or those arrested with him until now.

Among those arrested with him were Khenrab from Shakchu Town, monks Tsultrim Gonpo and Rinchen Namdol from Drong Ngur Kagyu Phelgyeling Monastery of Wathang, Jangchup Ngodup of Markor village, Sogru Abhu from Lhegyen Village, and Namsey from Dakra Village in Shagchu Town. 

Khenrab is a government official in Shakchu Town and also a member of the village cadre team. He was detained for engaging in “separatist activity” after he had spoken to villagers about the importance of environmental protection.

The protests began in 2017, when, without consulting the local Tibetans, Chinese authorities began building roads to facilitate mining activities at the foothills of Sebtra Zagyen in Driru County. Locals were upset because Sebtra Zagyen is an important site environmentally and is a pilgrimage site for local Tibetans. The Tibetan villagers from Gochu, Dakra, and Wathang Villages of Shagchu Town were also forced to sign a document agreeing to the project and were threatened with being labelled as separatists if they refused.

The project itself goes against article 53 of Environmental Protection Law of the People's Republic of China which guarantees the citizens rights to obtain environmental information and to participate in and oversee environmental protection. 

The road building project and mining activities in Driru County are part of a wider picture where the Chinese government promotes its policy of “ecological civilization” - the stated aim of which is the environmental protection of the Tibetan plateau - as cover for building their presence in areas which are rich in minerals, even though many of these areas are sacred to Tibetans. Local Tibetans face forced to resettlement, and those who protest, like Dhongye, suffer arbitary arrest, illegal detention and torture.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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