Two Tibetan brothers held incommunicado for months in Kham

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, January 15: Two Tibetan brothers, both monks at Nenang Monastery in Drago County, have been held incommunicado for five months since August 15, 2021. The duo, Tenzin Norbu and Wangchen Nyima, are currently being held in Tawu County Jail by the Chinese authorities. According to a report, these officials hid any information about the charges from family members.

Although the reason for their arrest is unclear, the source said it is suspected that they were detained because of their involvement in the monastery’s informal Tibetan language lessons for local Tibetan children. “The two monks are among those targeted and local authorities have been monitoring them for a long time,” the source added. Wangchen Nyima is an education and health advocate, and was previously arrested when the government shut down monastery schools in 2015; his brother Orgyan Choedrak had also been arrested during the same incident.

Monks Norbu and Wangchen are nephews of Tulku Choekyi Nyima, the abbot of Nenang Monastery. Tulku Choekyi Nyima was a student of Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, the founder of the Larung Gar monastic academy. Additionally, other reports suggest that on August 18, Khenpo Thupten and another monk named Bukyo died in a fire, believed to have been started by Chinese officials in the monastery’s assembly hall.

There have been several reports of arrests in Drago County following the demolition of two Buddha statues last December. More than a dozen Tibetans were arrested and several were tortured for resisting government orders; 99-foot and 30-foot Buddha statues in the same vicinity were demolished. The local government is also reportedly planning to build poultry and pig farms on the same spot where they demolished the Gaden Nangten School last October, which is run by Drago Monastery.