Tibetan Religious Leader is Released From Jail, Forbidden to Teach

Chinese authorities have released a senior Tibetan religious figure jailed for over two years for resisting a political education campaign, but have stripped him of his robes and forbidden him to teach, according to local sources.

Khenpo Lodroe Rabsel, formerly an instructor at the restive Karma monastery in the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Chamdo (in Chinese, Changdu) prefecture, had been held at the Powo Tramo prison in Tibet’s Pome (Bomi) county, a source in Tibet told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Friday.

“He was freed on May 5 and was sent back to his home in Chamdo but was again detained for nine days before his final release,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He reached his home in Trangmor village in Chamdo’s Karma town on May 14 at around noon,” he said.

Forbidden by authorities from resuming his religious dress and from teaching students, Rabsel “at present is attending to his ailing mother,” RFA’s source said, adding, “He has to report to the police once every week and is not permitted to travel.”

Official harassment

Rabsel, who holds the title “Khenpo” denoting a senior religious teacher or abbot, was detained in late 2011 together with a friend, Khenpo Namse Sonam, after Karma monastery monks fled the institution to escape harassment by authorities following an Oct. 26 bomb blast in a nearby town, sources said.

The attack on a government building had brought Chinese security forces into the area in large numbers, one source said.

"Chinese police, armed public security, and government officials have been coming to Karma monastery every day," an area resident said in an email to RFA.

"They conducted meetings, issued threats, and blocked all traffic in the area," he said.

"They took each monk's photo and fingerprints and also collected blood samples from each monk. They also forced each monk to give three writing samples."

Refusal to cooperate

Police took Rabsel and Sonam into custody “after they refused to cooperate with the officials conducting patriotic reeducation campaigns at the monastery,” the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said in a January 18, 2012 statement following the arrests.

The two monks had resisted officials’ demands that they denounce exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and agree that Tibet is a “part of China,” TCHRD said.

“In addition to attending patriotic reeducation classes, the monks at Karma monastery were questioned for long hours. The repeated questioning had deep psychological impacts on the monks, many of whom chose to flee the monastery."

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 131 Tibetans to date self-immolating to protest Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.