June 12, 2012

Tibet: Prominent Singer Detained

Famous Tibetan singer Phulchung was arrested by the Chinese authorities in Sichuan after being accused of propagating separatist ideas.

Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia:

Authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province have ordered the detention of a handicapped Tibetan singer accused of recording songs praising exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and highlighting the hardships of life under Beijing’s rule, exile sources say.

The date of the detention order on singer Phulchung is not known, but was described as “recent,” sources said.

It was the fourth in a string of cases involving the detention by Chinese authorities of Tibetan performers, writers, or educators reported during the last two months.

Phulchung, who comes from Anchok township in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture’s Chuchen (Jinchuan, in Chinese) county, has now gone into hiding to avoid capture, said India-based friend Jamyang, a native of the same town.

“After he produced his CD, the Chinese authorities ordered his detention,” Jamyang said. “So he was forced to leave his home and go into hiding.”

“His family members were never shown the warrant, so they do not know the details of its contents,” he said, adding that Phulchung has produced “about 32 or 33 different songs” in the past and is handicapped with a disabled left hand.

“He has written songs about his own disabilities,” Jamyang said.

Samten, another friend of the singer also living in exile, described Phulchung as a “very brave individual and very devoted to the Tibetan cause.”

Among the 13 songs released on Phulchung’s most recent CD, his fifth, are songs praising the Dalai Lama and Tibet’s exile prime minister Lobsang Sangay, Samten said.

The Dalai Lama sits “on a golden throne,” and Lobsang Sangay, “a leader of Tibetans,” sits “on a silver throne,” one song says.

Chinese authorities regularly revile the Dalai Lama and Lobsang Sangay as dangerous separatists, and harshly punish expressions of support for both men by Tibetans under Beijing’s rule.

In another song, Phulchung describes the Tibetan people as a “kind and just race” and urges them to resist China's domination by speaking “only pure Tibetan” and by “uniting and working together.”

China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan cultural and national identity since widespread protests swept Tibet and the Tibetan-populated Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu in 2008.

On April 19 [2012], authorities detained another Tibetan singer, Lo Lo, 29, in Qinghai province’s Yulshul (in Chinese, Yushu) prefecture after he released an album of songs titled “Raise the Flag of Tibet, sons of the Snow.”

The lyrics of the title track, one of 14 songs on the album, call for independence for Tibet, the unity of the Tibetan people, and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

At the end of April, China sentenced a popular Tibetan comedian, Athar, 33, to three years in jail on what sources describe as a trumped-up weapons charge following his release of a video criticizing Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated regions.

In a copy of the video obtained by RFA, Athar warns that Tibet under Chinese rule has gone down “a wrong path,” urges unity among Tibetans, and calls for a strengthened Tibetan national identity and culture.

And in May, Chinese authorities closed a Tibetan orphanage school in Gansu province’s Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) prefecture, according to a local source speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The reasons given were the school’s focus on teaching Tibetan language, speech, and culture, as well as the composition by the head of the school of a song containing ‘separatist’ contents,” the source said.