Dharamshala, March 22. A Tibetan woman has collapsed and died after confronting Chinese officials over the whereabouts and status of her missing brother.
A statement released from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) revealed the unnamed woman had previously approached the Chinese Security Office on numerous occasions for information regarding his status or location but was repeatedly shunned and refused any information. Overwhelmed with distress brought on by this ordeal, the ‘emotional shock’ caused her to fall unconscious and she was later pronounced dead later at hospital.
Her brother, 44-year old Khenpo Gyewala, a highly respected scholar and abbot of Gyegyel Zogchen Monastery, has been missing since March 8th. Alongside his fellow other teachers, Khenpo founded the Monsel School, which supports the learning of Tibetan history, language and Buddhism. According to the TCHRD, there are a reported 800 students in attendance; the majority of these students consist of local children from the rural area, and those of newly resettled Tibetan nomads in Zaotoe County.
Khenpo and a number of his fellow teachers were first detained on February 10th following a government order to ban Dechen Shingdrup, a famous local religious festival that is presided by all the major religious personalities in the region. This attempt to suppress Tibetan culture was met with a 1,000 strong protest made up by students, teachers and local villagers.
Following this, Khenpo and a reported 13 other teachers were detained but later released in the evening after an estimated 800 students marched to the police office to further protest this injustice. All captives were released but later Khenpo and others who had worked closely with the school and protest were reported to have ‘disappeared’.
Local Tibetans believe that Khenpo and the others have most likely been arrested by local PSB officers in raid under the cover of darkness. This unfortunate tragedy is yet another example of the oppression suffered by the Tibetan people at the hands of the Chinese government. Information regarding the whereabouts and safely of Khenpo and his colleagues should be released immediately; furthermore, the Chinese government must cease its attempt to repress the Tibetan people and their culture.