An undated image of Sonam Palden, a Buddhist monk of Kirit Monastery, Ngaba County of north-eastern Tibet. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala, India — Chinese authorities in Ngaba County of eastern Tibet have detained a young Tibetan monk without a charge and taken into custody this week. Local Tibetans suspect that police detained him believed to have shared "politically sensitive" writings or images over the popular WeChat microblog via his mobile phone.

"Sonam Palden, 22, was forcibly taken away by Chinese police from his room at Kirti monastery in Ngaba County, eastern Tibet, on September 29, 2019," an exile source told the Tibet Post International, on Friday.

Detentions for the simple detention of ‘politically sensitive content and image’ on mobile phones have been increasing in the region. Peaceful demonstrations against China's communist totalitarian rule have continued across the Himalayan nation of occupied Tibet since widespread protests in 2008.

"No reason was given for his detention, and there has been no word on his present whereabouts or condition," said Kanyak Tsering and Lobsang Yeshe, spokespersons of the exile seat of Kirti monastery here in Dharamshala, India.

“But local Tibetans believe they had been found having his writings on his mobile phone, talking about the deteriorating situation of the Tibetan language in Tibet which is a matter of great sadness,” the source said, citing contacts in the region.  'Palden believed to have transmitted or shared so-called "politically sensitive" writings and images over the popular WeChat microblog via mobile phone,' the source added.

"Palden became a monk at an early age at Kirti monastery monk in Amdo region of north-eastern Tibet where over 2000 monks live and study Buddhism. However, recent reports indicate its population has declined substantially as a result of a severe crackdown by Chinese authorities.

"Sonam Palden comes originally from Chayultso Naktsangma Valley in Ngaba County of eastern Tibet. His father's name is unknown, and his mother's name is kalkho," they said, adding: "His current whereabouts and condition remain unknown."

In recent years, Chinese authorities have stepped up curbs increasingly on information flows in Tibet amid protests, in some places including self-immolations, challenging China’s repressive authoritarian rule in these occupied areas, and images of the National Flag of Tibet and His Holiness the Dalai Lama are considered especially so-called "sensitive".

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrated the 70th anniversary of its totalitarian rule on October 1, 2019, over a million Uighurs are imprisoned in labor camps, millions are severely repressed in Tibet, and millions are on the streets of Hong Kong marching for basic freedom and human rights. Arbitrary arrests, severe prison sentence, long-term detention of conscience, detention without trial of political prisoners, unfair trials, widespread torture and ill-treatment of detainees for simply exerting their right to express views about the treatment of the Tibetan people, are among international community's major concerns in Tibet.

In Tibet today, Chinese authorities dramatically stepped up repression and systematic abuses against Tibetans inside Tibet and have carried out mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment of some of them in various detention facilities, and increasingly imposed pervasive controls on daily life. Year after year, new regulations particularly targeting Tibetans in Tibet criminalize the even traditional forms of social event and action, including preserving, and promotion of Tibetan religious and cultural heritages which undermines people’s rights to free speech and political participation. However, authorities in Beijing still claim that “China ‘peacefully liberated’ Tibet, and that the Tibetans are living in a “Maoist socialist paradise.”

The communist-totalitarian state of China began its invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.

Until 1949, Tibet was an independent Buddhist nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse of the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings of Buddhism. Religion was a unifying theme among the Tibetans -- as was their own language, literature, art, and world view developed by living at high altitudes, under harsh conditions, in a balance with their environment.