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Kalsang-Yarphel-2017Dharamshala — A popular Tibetan singer imprisoned for defending Tibetan unity and language has been released from prison after serving four-year sentence.

Kalsang Yarphel, a popular Tibetan singer in his 40s, was released on July 10, 2017 after serving four years in prison. But his current health condition is still unknown, according TPI sources.

Yarphel has returned to his home in Makhuk Tara in Machu County in Kanlho, northeastern Tibet and was given a hero's welcome upon his arrival, by his family and friends with Tibetan ceremonial white scarves.

In 2012, Yarphel, along with a few other Tibetan musicians and artists, had organised a concert called "Snow Flower". They called for unity among Tibetans and encouraged Tibetans to preserve their language and culture.

His popular songs included "We Should Speak Tibetan" and "We Should Unite." But the Chinese authorities accused him of singing Tibetan songs with banned "political themes". Yarphel was arrested in Lhasa on June 14, 2013 and taken to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, China for singing politically themed songs. He spent around 16 months in detention without trial before November 27, 2014.

Yarphel's father's name is Gonpo Tsetan and his mother is Makho. His wife's name is Tsezin Palmo and they have two sons and one daughter- Ogyen Kyab, Konchok Tenpa, and Dolkar Lhamo.

Another Tibetan singer Shawo Tashi was sentenced to five years in prison over his songs about self-immolation protest in Tibet. His sentence came just days after Yarphel was arrested in Lhasa.

In September 2016, two other Tibetan singers – Chakdor and Pema Trinley – were released from prison after completing their four-year prison sentences for the recording and distribution of an album that included songs about the current situation in Tibet and self-immolation protests, as well as songs in praise of famous Tibetan leaders.

Also in September 2016, Tibetan writer and poet Gangkye Drupa Kyab was re-detained for 15 days, just one day after his release from prison, because his welcome ceremony at his village including him in traditional Tibetan dress, ceremonial offering scarves and the a photo of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Yarpher is one of the many Tibetan singers who has been imprisoned for his art. Musicians Lo Lo, Shawo Tashi, Kelsang Yarphel, Gonpo Tenzin and Trinley Tsekar, are just some of the musicians who remain behind bars for singing songs the Chinese government deems objectionable.

Tibetans in Tibet are denied most rights, including the right to freedom of artistic expression - a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Tibetans in Tibet, it is considered a crime to sing in their own language about their own culture.

In recent years a number of singers have been arrested and jailed for calling for a free Tibet, denouncing China's oppression or defending Tibetan culture and expressing Tibetan national pride.

Tibet was invaded by the Communist regime in China, starting in 1949. Since that time, over 1.2 million out of 6 Tibetans died as a direct result of China's invasion and continued occupation of Tibet, over 6000 monasteries have been looted and destroyed— Crimes against Humanity and Genocide include murder, massacres, torture, rape, starvation, extreme deprivation, forced marches, enslavement, brutal violence, and systematic extermination. The communist regime continues to call this a 'peaceful liberation', that the "Tibetans are living in a Maoist socialist paradise."

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