Peaceful protester disappears after January arrest in southeast Tibet

Protester Sonam Tashi
Protester Sonam Tashi
17th February 2017

20-year-old Sonam Tashi’s family uncertain of his status, six weeks after he was seized for political actions 

The family of a 20-year-old Tibetan man detained by authorities in early January have still not been informed as to his whereabouts or status. Sonam Tashi, was seized by police on 5 January while carrying out a solo protest in the remote village of Shothal in Kardze, eastern Tibet.

According to information obtained by Golog Jigme, a former political prisoner, Sonam Tashi marched into a street in the village and shouted: "Long live the Dalai Lama" and "Tibet wants freedom" while throwing Lungta (pictures printed on square pieces of paper which are traditionally associated with spreading good will and compassion) into the air in the village. After a short while he was forcefully arrested by local police.

Sonam Tashi’s family say they have approached the authorities and inquired many times about his whereabouts but they have had no official confirmation as to his well-being, nor location.

Solo protesters face harsh treatment 

There have been a series of solo protests in recent years within Tibet including 18-year-old former monk Tenpa alongside Lobsang TseringLosang Thubten and Tashi Dhondup.

Solo protesters are often held in unknown locations with families of the accused only informed once the trial has taken place behind closed doors. Many are also refused access to legal counsel during their trials.

Earlier this month the independent think tank Freedom House named Tibet as one of the most repressive places in the world, finding Tibetans under China’s rule to have minimal civil liverties and political freedoms.

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