Tibetan monk who criticized China’s policies released from prison
A Tibetan monk who criticized China’s restrictive policies in Tibet and was convicted of “inciting separatism” has been released after four and half years in prison.
Rinchen Tsultrim was released from Mianyang prison in Sichuan province on Feb. 1 after completing his prison term, two sources told Radio Free Asia.
Tsultrim was a monk at the Nangzhig Monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba county when he was taken into custody in 2019. He was secretly detained for more than a year and sentenced in a closed trial in 2021.
Before his arrest, he had written favorably on the language rights of Tibetans and had praised the previous incarnation of the Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s second-most important spiritual leader behind the Dalai Lama.
He posted the writings on his website and had received at least three warnings from Chinese authorities before he was detained.
Separatism, or “working to split the country,” is an accusation often leveled by Chinese authorities against Tibetans opposing the assimilation of Tibet’s distinctive national and cultural identity into China’s dominant Han culture.
Scores of monks, writers, educators, and musical performers have been arrested under the charge in recent years.
Particular targets of censors and police are images of the Dalai Lama shared on mobile phones and calls for the preservation of the Tibetan language, now under threat from government orders to establish Chinese as the main language of instruction in Tibetan schools.
While in prison, Tsultrim was refused permission to meet with his family, and contact was restricted to brief phone calls once a month, sources told RFA at the time.
There were also reports that Tsultrim was subjected to torture, forced labor and political indoctrination while in prison.
The two sources, who requested anonymity for safety reasons, refused to discuss the current condition of Tsultrim’s health, citing fear of repercussions. They said that he remains under “constant surveillance.”
Edited by Tenzin Pema and Matt Reed.