China targets Tibetan musicians with prison sentences for protest songs

Friday, 14 June 2013

Immediate use

China targets Tibetan musicians with prison sentences for protest songs

Free Tibet has confirmed that two Tibetan musicians detained nearly a year ago for singing politically sensitive songs, have been sentenced to two years each. Confirmation of their sentence follows news of the sentencing of another musician to six years earlier in the year. Photos and video of all the singers are available (1).

Pema Trinlay, 22, and Chakdor, 32, from Ngaba, Eastern Tibet (2) produced an album called “The pain of an unhealed wound” containing twelve songs praising the Dalai Lama and Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese occupation. A close relative of Chakdor set himself alight in August 2012, was detained by security forces and later died (3). The pair of singers were sentenced in February for two years each, but news of the convictions has only recently emerged. Despite repeated appeals family members have been denied the right to visit the singers and have not seen them since their original detainment last year.

On 23rd February this year, popular Tibetan singer Lolo was sentenced by a court in Eastern Tibet (4) to six years in prison for an unspecified crime. First detained in April 2012, 30-year-old Lolo had released an album online containing 14 songs with lyrics calling for Tibet’s independence, unity of the Tibetan people and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. One song, “Raise the Tibetan flag, children of the snowland” challenged China’s prohibition on flying the Tibetan flag. A video of him singing the song (with English translation) is available (4). Lolo had no known links to protests or other activism.

Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said:

“In the Western world, protest songs can get you a place in the charts: in Tibet, they land you in jail. Music is one of the few ways that Tibetans can preserve the culture that China has sought to destroy, and political songs represent a courageous form of resistance to repressive rule. China has targeted artists and intellectuals throughout its occupation and especially since the protests of 2008. Despite China’s recent efforts to portray itself as a modern nation, the harsh sentences for Pema Trinley, Chakdor and Lolo show just how vicious, relentless and intolerant the occupying regime in Tibet remains. ”


(1) Photos at Video of Lolo at

(2) Chinese: Aba, Qinghai

(3) Jopa, 12 August 2013

(4) Siling (Chinese: Xiling, Sichuan Province)

(5) Lyrics: “Raise the Tibetan Flag, Children of the Snowland” by Lolo

For the sake of protecting Tibet’s independence
Our Kings resisted the red Chinese leaders
From the true meaning of the middle path
Raise the Tibetan flag, children of the Snowland!

Translation by High Peaks Pure Earth

Video at

Free Tibet is an international campaigning organisation that stands for the right of Tibetans to determine their own future. We campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and for the fundamental human rights of Tibetans to be respected.

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T: +44 207 324 4605