The two monks of Labrang Monastery; Tsundue Gyatso, 35 years old, hailed from Gyengya Village, Labrang County (Ch: Sangchu/Xiahe xian), whereas Sonam Gyatso, 38, was from Sangkok Village, Labrang County, Kanlho “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’), Gansu Province.
The two monks were earlier arrested and released thrice by the Chinese security forces for their participations in a series of protests that took place in Labrang last year. The latest arrest came when a sudden raid was carried out inside Labrang Monastery’s residence quarter by a large number of Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials on 14 May 2009. There is dearth of information on where the duo was taken to.
Following their arrest, the family members and close associates of Tsundue and Sonam Gyatso approached the local Public Security office to ascertain their status as well as to deliver foods and clothing to the detainees. The concerned security officials reportedly told the family members that a fresh interrogation is needed to clarify on certain things related to last year’s protests in Labrang and that they would be released shortly. However, they continue to face detention without any knowledge of their status to the family members.
There are cases of Tibetans having been re-arrested for their participation in last year’s protest. Among those, the most prominent case being Labrang Jigme a.k.a Jigme Guri, who was first arrested on 22 March 2008, later detained and tortured for two months in the detention centre for his suspected role in 14 March 2008 protest in Labrang. He was later released on medical ground. Jigme was re-arrested on 4 November 2008 for exposing Chinese brutality to the international media. He was finally released on 3 May 2009.
TCHRD strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and detention of Tsundue Gyatso and Sonam Gyatso. TCHRD also calls upon the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to immediately release all the Tibetan prisoners of conscience arbitrarily detained over peaceful exercise of their fundamental human rights. There are still hundreds of Tibetans whose whereabouts and current status remain unknown to their family members and close associates. The government should guarantee, under all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Tibetan detainees and ensured that detainee’s family members are informed of their whereabouts and wellbeing.