Chinese authorities this month sentenced a university student to three years in prison for contacting Tibetan exiles, the latest in a string of arbitrary arrests of Tibetan intellectuals, artists and other community leaders, activists told RFA.
Nyima, from Shelian Township in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Kardze (Ganzi in Chinese) in Sichuan Province, was unexpectedly arrested in January this year for espionage.
He was a student at National Sichuan Gehoe University, focusing his studies on Tibetan culture.
Fluent in Tibetan, Chinese and English, Nyima had always been surrounded by tourists and visitors, sharing Tibet‘s unique language and culture before his arrest in January.
“[He] was sentenced on June 5 to three years in prison for allegedly disseminating state secrets, but Chinese authorities have not shared any details about what kind of state secrets Nyima revealed,” a source told RFA. Tibetan source living in Tibet.
“He could be seen sharing Tibetan history and authentic Tibetan culture with tourists, so I think that may be the reason for his arrest. His family has no idea where he is imprisoned at the moment,” said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Nyima’s arrest is very similar to the arrests of other influential Tibetans, Pema Gyal, a researcher with the London-based advocacy group Tibet Watch, told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“There have been a growing number of cases of arrests of Tibetan intellectuals inside Tibet by the Chinese government, and we have learned that in Nyima’s case, he was arrested for communicating with the outside community. in exile, and also for his commitment to preserving the Tibetans. language and culture,” said Pema Gyal.
Language rights have become a particular focus of Tibetan efforts to assert national identity in recent years, with informally organized language classes generally seen as “illegal associations” and teachers subject to detention and arrest, according to sources.
Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Eugene Whong.