Two more Tibetans have been ordered jailed by Chinese authorities for urging residents of their home county to abide by the Dalai Lama’s call not to participate in a controversial form of worship deemed “divisive” by the exiled spiritual leader, sources said.
Uyak Tulku Lobsang Tenzin and Jamyang Tsultrim—both natives of Dzogang (in Chinese, Zuogang) county in Tibet’s Chamdo (Changdu) prefecture—were handed sentences of 10 years and 10 years and six months respectively early this month, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Tenzin, aged about 60, and Tsultrim, age unknown, had been accused of “working with the Dalai clique and misleading people on the worship of Shugden,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Chinese police frequently investigate and arrest Tibetans considered to have responded to the policy directives of the India-based Dalai Lama, who has advised Tibetans not to worship Shugden—a Tibetan “protector” deity whose rituals he has denounced as sectarian and divisive.
Details on the exact date and location of the men’s sentencing were not immediately available, but word of their jailing follows a report last week that another Chamdo resident—Jamyang Tsering, 77—had been handed a one-and-a-half year term by a Dzogang court for the same offense.
‘Obey the Dalai Lama’
Tenzin was detained “sometime in June this year” in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa, where he had retired after working as a driver and tour guide, RFA’s source said.
“At some point, he returned to Dzogang county in Chamdo and began to advise the lay public and the monastic community to obey the instructions of the Dalai Lama and abandon worshipping Shugden, as this would be in the best interest both of individuals and the community.”
No word has been received on Tenzin’s current health condition or place of detention, or on the background or present circumstances of Tsultrim, the other man sentenced, the source said.
“It is extremely difficult now to get details from Dzogang due to restrictions on the lines of communication,” he said.
“The local Tibetans are scared to talk even when the phone or other lines are open.”
Chamdo police in April issued a set of regulations including a ban on “anyone using the protector ‘Gyalchen Shugden’ to create differences among the believing masses,” Columbia University Tibet scholar Robbie Barnett told RFA in an e-mail.
The regulations use language that appears to be “aimed primarily at opponents or critics of the Shugden practice,” Barnett said.
“From the perspective of the Chinese, they have a responsibility to prevent violence and conflict over this, as with any other contentious issue among Tibetans,” Barnett said.
“However, the Chinese authorities have published numerous statements attacking the Dalai Lama on the Shugden issue both in Tibet and internationally.”
“So they are widely perceived within Tibet as favoring the pro-Shugden side in this dispute.”
Reported by Soepa Gyatso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.