Chinese police have detained two monks on allegations of posting illegal online material.
On 16 April two monks from Tsang Monastery in Ba Dzong, Tsolho Prefecture were arrested for sharing illegal photos and articles on WeChat.
One of the monks has been identified as Woechung Gyatso, of Deden village in Malho Sogdzong in eastern Tibet, while the other’s identity remains unknown.
While the second, unidentified, monk was released after multiple interrogation sessions, Woechung Gyatso remains in detention. His current location and situation are unknown at this time.
Tsang monastery has a record of resistance to China’s occupation of Tibet. During the 2008 uprising over 500 monks from the monastery hoisted a Tibetan national flag onto the monastery’s roof. They also carried out a peaceful demonstration where they held photos of the Dalai Lama.
Choktrin Gyatso, a monk who participated in the March 2008 demonstration at the monastery, was released last year after serving nine years of his ten year sentence. In 2015, Tsering Dondrub was detained for posting images of the Tibetan flag and the Dalai Lama on WeChat.
These acts of resistance have been met with reprisals from authorities. Only last month, local authorities conducted a cybersecurity workshop with the monks of Tsang Monastery where monks, including Woechung Gyatso, were forced to write confession letters after being suspected of posting illegal social media content. The workshop also informed monks of the newly implemented cybersecurity law and warned of severe penalties in case of its violation.
In October 2017, Tibetans in Zeku County were required to attend compulsory training for WeChat chat organisers which stressed the need to block illegal material such as references to Tibetan independence.
Information supplied by Tibet Watch.
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