The Buddha statue, Geshe Tsewang Namgyal, and Dralha of Draggo Monastery. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala, India — Chinese authorities continue to crack down on Tibetans in Draggo County after a Buddha statue was destroyed in Draggo County, Kham Region, Eastern Tibet. The plight of former Tibetan political prisoners is worsening, with no freedom of movement in Draggo County.

According to our sources, Tibetans are under strict restrictions of the Chinese authorities, following the destruction of the Buddha statue and 45 prayer wheels in Draggo County. For those who have been detained by the Chinese authorities recently over the demolition of the Buddha Statue, their conditions and whereabouts are still known due to the tightened control of sending information out of Tibet.

Those who are being detained by the Chinese authorities are Paga, Khenpo (abbot) of Draggo Monastery, Nyima, treasurer of Draggo Monastery, Tashi Dorjee and Nyima, both monks of Draggo Monastery, Tsering Samdup, Trolpa, and Lhamo Yangkyi from a village in Draggo County, “but their condition and whereabouts could not be ascertained due to tightened controls on sending information out of Tibet,” a source in India told TPI, remaining anonymous for fear that his family would be arrested by the Chinese authorities because of his action.

Geshe (abbot) Tsewang Namgyal, a teacher at Draggo Monastery, Dralha, an accountant at Draggo Monastery, and Geshe Tenzin Palsang, a senior caretaker at the monastery, are all former political prisoners. Tsewang Namgyal became disabled after being tortured for six years by the Chinese authorities in a Chinese prison. Dralha and Tenzin Palsang were also beaten and tortured while in prison. “After their release, they all suffer from illnesses and could not be treated in hospitals because they are former political prisoners. In addition, their freedom of movement is strictly controlled by the Chinese police. As a result, their health is deteriorating and they still have no freedom of movement,” the source added.

Geshe Namgyal, along with Geshe Lobsang Tenzin, Dralha and Thinlay were arrested in an internet café in Chengdu on January 23, 2012. Since then, they were missing for about ten months until their sentences in late 2012.

Months after their arbitrary detention and disappearance, five Tibetan monks from Draggo Monastery have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to seven years for their alleged participation in a peaceful protest in 2012 against the Chinese communist government's authoritarian rule in Tibet. 

Over the past 70 decades, there has been ongoing political repression, social discrimination, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation, particularly due to Chinese migration to Tibet which is fueling intense resentment among the people of occupied Tibet.

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 nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse — 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.