Chinese authorities arrested a young Tibetan language activist six months ago, and his whereabouts remain unknown, even to his family, sources in Tibet told RFA.
Lodoe, son of Rigzin, is a university graduate in his 30s from Seshul county (in Chinese Shiqu), part of the Garze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province. As he is fluent in both Chinese and Tibetan, the government offered him a job, which he turned down to advocate for the preservation of the Tibetan language.
“Lodoe was arrested unexpectedly by the Chinese authorities six months ago from Seshul County and taken to Chengdu, [Sichuan’s capital],” a Tibetan source in Tibet told RFA’s Tibetan Service, on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
“Since then, his whereabouts and condition are unknown. His family has learned from some sources that he will be convicted soon, but they still don’t know where exactly he is being detained at the moment — whether in a prison or a detention center,” the source said.
The arrest of Lodoe is part of a larger crackdown by the Chinese government on Tibetan writers, intellectuals and cultural leaders. Authorities arbitrarily imprison them for long periods of time in undisclosed locations, without revealing the exact charges or the dates of their sentences to their families, sources said.
“Usually officials from a respective county will come and take individuals away to detention,” the source said.
“However, this time Chinese officials from Sichuan province came to arrest Lodoe. Many believe that Lodoe was arrested for having communicated with people in exile and also for advocating for Tibetan language rights. Chinese officials have still not cited any reasons for his arrest,” the source added. “We still don’t know the exact month and date of his arrest [either].”
Chinese authorities have frequently detained Tibetan writers and artists who promote Tibetan national identity and culture — with many sentenced to lengthy prison terms — following region-wide protests of Chinese rule that swept Tibet and Tibetan areas in western provinces of China in 2008.
Language rights have become a particular focus for Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language courses typically deemed “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, sources say.
Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Eugene Whong.