“Tibetan Comedian Detained”

There were early reports of another self-immolation yesterday, but these seem to have mostly been retracted. This story still stands, though:

Authorities in China’s southwestern Sichuan province have detained a popular Tibetan comedian ahead of his plan to release a video criticizing Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated regions, which has been a key theme of recent Tibetan protests, according to exile sources.

“Two weeks ago, many Chinese police wearing black head gear came to his shop in the evening,” said India-based Tibetan exile parliament member Andrug Tseten, citing sources in the region.

“They searched his shop and took him away with them in the night,” Tseten said.

Athar’s relatives who went to the county police to enquire about his situation were told that the performer had been taken by police belonging to a special task force assigned to detain people involved in “serious political matters,” Tseten said.

Athar, a member of the Yuru Keta Depa family, gave his friend a short recorded message, telling him to pass it on if he should hear he had been detained. It was not immediately clear whether Athar had publicly released the video before his detention.

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

“The Tibetan sky, which has a history of more than a thousand years, is [now] shrouded by a thick black cloud,” Athar says.

“Many in the world who are sensible and knowledgeable are shedding tears for us and extending their support.”

“We should cease all those actions that please our enemy and should shoulder our responsibility and foster unity among all three regions of Tibet and all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, protect our culture, and conserve our environment,” Athar said.

About a week ago, popular Tibetan writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, 33, was taken into custody in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county in Sichuan by special police who raided his home late at night.

Two weeks earlier, Dawa Dorje, a popular advocate of Tibet’s traditional culture and language in his 20’s, was detained by Chinese authorities as he returned to the Tibet Autonomous Region after organizing a conference promoting Tibetan culture in Sichuan.

Making statements like that, given the current situation, is undeniably brave. Dhondup Wangchen has been imprisoned for going on four years now for making a short film talking about Tibetan issues, and Tibetans considering similar acts certainly know the potential consequences.

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Filed under enforced disappearance, ethnic conflict, Tibet

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