China arrests two Tibetan singers in Diru

Cover of the music album, Ring of Unity, shows a photo of singer Trinley Tsekar

Cover of the music album, Ring of Unity, shows a photo of singer Trinley Tsekar

Two Tibetan singers have become the latest targets of China’s crackdown in Diru (Ch: Biru) County in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Trinley Tsekar, 22, and Gonpo Tenzin, 25 have been arrested in separate incidents in late November 2013 in Diru County, according to information received by TCHRD.

Singer Trinley Tsekar was arrested on around 20 November 2013 when he visited the local driving school to get his driver’s license. Sources with contacts in Diru said Trinley Tsekar was arrested because he had distributed a DVD that contained songs he had sung on Tibetan identity, culture and language. One of his most famous DVDs is titled Ring of Unity (Tib: Thundil ki Along). Sources also said Trinley Tsekar was a well-known singer who used to express the pain and suffering of Tibetan people through his songs. He hails from Serkhang Village in Diru Township. His family members including his aged mother, Yangchen Dolker, wife and a child, have no idea where he is being held and in what condition.

Another well-known singer Gonpo Tenzin, 25, was arrested on 30 November 2013 in Lhasa on unknown charges. There is no confirmed information on the causes of his sudden and arbitrary arrest. Friends of the singer suspect that he might have been arrested in connection with his songs that contained lyrics calling for the promotion and propagation of Tibetan culture, literature and language. Gonpo Tenzin had distributed a number of DVDs of his songs among local Tibetans.

Singer Gonpo Tenzin was arrested in Lhasa on unknown charges.

Singer Gonpo Tenzin was arrested in Lhasa on unknown charges.

This year, Gonpo Tenzin released a special album titled “No Losar for Tibet”, the title song of which became hugely popular among Tibetans. With the growing repression and relentless self-immolations in Tibet, the title song “No Losar for Tibet” touched a chord among many Tibetans who felt that celebrating Losar (Tibetan New Year) would be inappropriate given the situation inside Tibet. Gonpo Tenzin’s popularity increased after the song became a major hit. Gonpo Tenzin hails from Septha Village in Shagchu (Ch: Xiaqu) Town, Diru County.

An undated photo of singer Trinley Tsekar

An undated photo of singer Trinley Tsekar

In recent months in Diru County, Chinese authorities have arrested many Tibetans including a popular writer, Tsultrim Gyaltsen, and sentenced to five years another writer Topden. Diru County has become a focal point of China’s implementation of “mass line” policy and its attendant crackdown. Since September 2013, Chinese authorities have violently suppressed protests by local Tibetans, subjecting them to gross human rights abuses such as arbitrary detention, torture, unlawful imprisonment and enforced disappearance. The crackdown has since spread to other areas neighbouring Diru County as well as Lhasa after Lhasa authorities began putting 24-hr surveillance over Nagchu Tibetans in Lhasa.