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China releases Tibetan monk jailed for separatism

The monk was arrested in 2019 after he was warned thrice against criticizing China's restrictive policies
Separatism or working to split Tibet is a common charge leveled by Chinese authorities against Tibetans opposing the assimilation of Tibet’s national and cultural identity into China’s dominant Han culture.

Separatism or working to split Tibet is a common charge leveled by Chinese authorities against Tibetans opposing the assimilation of Tibet’s national and cultural identity into China’s dominant Han culture. (Photo: AFP)

Published: February 09, 2024 10:52 AM GMT
Updated: February 09, 2024 11:24 AM GMT

A Buddhist monk who was convicted and jailed for inciting separatism in Tibet over his criticism of China’s restrictive policies has been released after completing his four-and-half-year jail term, according to a report.

Rinchen Tsultrim was released from the Minyang Prison in China’s Sichuan province, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Feb. 7.

Tsultrim, who was released on Feb. 1, lives under constant surveillance, the report said quoting two anonymous sources. But the source refused to comment on his current health status citing fear of repercussions.

In 2019, Tsultrim was arrested from the Nangzhig Monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba County and was secretly detained for more than a year. He was jailed after a closed trial in 2021.

Tsultrim had reportedly voiced his support for the language rights of the Tibetans and praised the previous Panchen Lama, Lobsang Trinley Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen, who spoke out against Chinese rule many times in the 1960s. Chinese authorities jailed him and he died in suspicious circumstances in 1989.

The monk had republished his writings on his social media and website. Chinese authorities had warned him thrice before taking him into custody.

Tsultrim was allegedly subjected to torture, forced labor, and political indoctrination while in prison, RFA reported.

Separatism or working to split Tibet is a common charge leveled by Chinese authorities against Tibetans opposing the assimilation of Tibet’s national and cultural identity into China’s dominant Han culture.

As part of China’s Sinicization plan, in November 2023, Tibetan teachers and students were asked to denounce the Dalai Lama and his alleged separatist activities and pledge allegiance to China.

In October 2023, the authorities banned the teaching and use of the Tibetan language in elementary and middle schools, which Tibetan people say aims to smother their language and culture.

The government claimed the move was to raise the standard of education in schools, RFA reported in 2023.

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