Imprisoned monk released after five years in prison

Lobsang Jinpa
Lobsang Jinpa

16th November 2017

Lobsang Jinpa was accused in 2012 of writing song lyrics for Tibetan musician Lolo, who was also arrested

A monk from Zilkar Monastery in Trindu County, eastern Tibet, has been released.  Lobsang Jinpa was set free on 30 October or early November having served five years in jail. He has since returned home.

Lobsang Jinpa, now 35, was arrested in September 2012 at his monastery after a surprise raid by Chinese security forces. The raid was believed to have been in response to mass protests by local monks earlier that year.

Following the raid, Lobsang Jinpa was accused of writing song lyrics for Lolo, a Tibetan musician. According to authorities, the song lyrics on Lolo's album 'Children of Snow land, Raise Tibetan Flag' were politically sensitive.

Four other monks were also arrested in the raid, Sonam Yingyen, Tsultrim Kalsang, Ngawang Monlam and Sonam Sherab.

Trials and prison

After more than five months in detention, Lobsang Jinpa was tried in February 2013 and sentenced to five years in jail. Lolo was sentenced to six years.

Sonam Yingyen and Sonam Sherab were both sentenced to two years in jail, which they served in prison in Xining and then in a labour camp in the same city.

Tsultrim Kalsang was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, having also been charged with crimes relating to a double self-immolation that took place in 2012. His health has deteriorated over time and he has had to undergo two operations earlier this year due to liver complications. His mother was denied permission to visit him in the prison in 2014.

Having served his sentence, Lobsang Jinpa has returned to Tridu County. Few details are available on Lobsang Jinpa's current health, which was in a poor condition prior to his sentencing. Before his arrest he had been hospitalised due to major concerns about liver and kidney complications. It is also believed that he was temporarily released due to health concerns during his time in prison.

A restive region

Zilkar Monastery is located in the south of Trindu County, currently part of China's Qinghai Province, and has long been a target of Chinese security and police forces.

The county is known for unrest and Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule, additionally there have been a number of cases of self-immolation protests. The bodies of Ngawang Norphel and Tenzin Khedup, were taken to Tsultrim Kalsang’s Zilkar Monastery after they both set themselves alight on 30 June 2012.

Efforts to restrict movement in the area have increased since Lobsang Jinpa’s arrest with the appointment of a new monastery management committee by the Chinese government in 2014 to ensure stability.

Such measures are part of China’s wider crackdown on religion and monasteries in Tibet which continue to be a source of resistance for Tibetans.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

Take action

Despite Lobsang Jinpa's release, many other Tibetan political prisoners remain in Chinese jails. Some of them are held in secret locations, with the Chinese authorities refusing to reveal any information about their location or current health condition and preventing them from contacting their relatives.

Help Free Tibet pressure Chinese officials to reveal their location, and push for their release.