Tibetan musician freed after four years in jail

Freed musician Amchok Phuljung pictured (seated centre) at his home having been released from prison on Feb 2, 2017
Freed musician Amchok Phuljung pictured (seated centre) at his home having been released from prison on Feb 2, 2017
3rd February 2017

Amchok Phuljung was imprisoned in 2012 shortly after the release of his fifth album in which he openly praised the Dalai Lama

A Tibetan musician who sang about the Dalai Lama has been freed after serving four years in prison.

Singer Amchok Phuljung, from Kakhok County in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, was 33 years old when he was arrested in August 2012. Immediately prior to his arrest, he had escaped from the authorities and taken refuge in the hills in Barkham County, Ngaba, for three months. He was finally released from prison on 2 February, 2017.

Phuljung, whose release Free Tibet pushed for as part of its Jailed Musicians campaign, had made five albums throughout his musical career. His fifth album, released in May 2012, included tracks praising Tibet’s spiritual head, the Dalai Lama, as well as Tibetan Prime Minister-in exile Dr Lobsang Sangay.

Defiant family stage home-coming for freed musician

Despite official warnings the Tibetan musician’s family staged a grand welcome for his return home and several videos and pictures circulating on social media show him being adorned with ceremonial scarves. Fellow musicians are seen in the clips celebrating Phuljung’s return while renowned Tibetan poet Nyen is also seen welcoming him home.

Addressing Phuljung, Nyen said: "The night is filled with darkness … But a good sign has been set, soon it will be dawn. Tibetans are people that have waited a long time for dawn. Thank you very much!"

News of the singer’s release comes amid the ongoing incarceration of many Tibetan musicians, writers and other cultural activists, including Tashi Wangchuk who faces up to 15 years for his actions in support of the Tibetan language.

China’s state security laws are broad and ill-defined ensuring that any musician defying the harsh legal codes risks imprisonment. Free Tibet has continued to campaign for the scores of Tibetans who have been jailed for expressing their unique culture or peacefully speaking out or protesting against the occupation.

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