Teacher is arrested and charged with separatism after her school was forcibly closed

Rinchen Kyi, who was arrested on 1 August
10th August 2021

Rinchen Kyi was deeply affected by the closure of Sengdruk Taktse Middle School last month

After the forced closure of the Sengdruk Taktse Middle School on 8 July, Chinese authorities arrested one of its longest-serving teachers. Rinchen Kyi was arrested in Golog, eastern Tibet, on 1 August 2021 on charges of inciting separatism, a state security crime under Chinese law. Rinchen Kyi was subsequently taken to Xining, the capital city of Qinghai Province, but details about her health and whereabouts have been kept secret by the police authorities.

The forced shutdown of Sengdruk Taktse Middle School happened last month without any official clarification from the higher authorities. The school’s graduation ceremony marked the last day of the school's existence, leaving its founders, alumni and parents extremely concerned. 

According to a local source, Rinchen Kyi was disturbed by this abrupt event and has lost her appetite since then. After not eating well for more than two weeks, her health deteriorated and she became weaker. Her family and relatives were getting concerned about her weakening state and tried to convince her to visit a doctor but she kept refusing.

Before her family could continue seeking help for her, Chinese police visited her home and arrested her on charges of separatism. The police kept her in a hospital in Xining for two days and then transferred her to another undisclosed location. Authorities have explained that she will be taken to another hospital but has not disclosed the exact location of her whereabouts.

Rinchen Kyi following her arrest

A week after the Chinese Communist Party’s centenary celebration, Chinese authorities in Golog ordered the closure of Sengdruk Taktse Middle School in Darlak County. Without giving any official reason for the shutdown of the private Tibetan school, all the students have been advised to enrol in other government-affiliated schools in the region.

On the last day of the school, Khandrul Jigme Kunsang Gyaltsen, co-founder, and head of the school, asserted that the mission of the school was to provide education to the destitute, orphaned, and those without the means to access formal schooling. He further explained that the school was established in accordance with the laws, with the approval of concerned prefectural and county governments and that it had abided by the constitution of the People’s Republic of China. He also expressed his expectation that he would receive an official clarification from the higher authorities regarding the school’s closure.

Confidential sources from the area confided that the motives behind the closure of the school were political. The school’s primary language of instruction was Tibetan and it provided Tibetan culture-based learning for Tibetan students in the region.

Information supplied by Tibet Watch.

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