Prominent Tibetan writer and scholar Rongwo Gangkar, who disappeared more than a year ago, has been confirmed arrested by Chinese authorities, RFA’s Tibetan Service has learned.
Gangkar, the 48-year-old author of popular works such as “The Knot” and “An Interview with Gendun Choephel”, a collaboration with other writers, was likely arrested in early 2021, a source told RFA Tibetan living in Tibet. on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
“He was unexpectedly arrested by Chinese police and at this time his whereabouts and condition remain unknown,” the source said.
“He had been missing since the beginning of 2021, but it was only later that we learned from some of his friends and acquaintances that he had suddenly been taken into custody by order of the government. Chinese. Few people were aware of his arrest, due to the strict restrictions in place due to COVID-19 at the time.
Another source in the area, who also declined to be named, told RFA he was saddened to hear of Gangkar’s arrest and worried for his well-being.
“Rongwo Gangkar is a well-known Tibetan writer known for many of his popular works,” he said.
“He is from Rebkong (in Chinese, tongren) [county in the Malho (Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture] and belongs to Rongwo Monastery. … I haven’t seen him for so long.
Repression against Tibetan leaders
Gangkar, who is also famous for his translation skills, is the latest confirmed victim of the Chinese authorities’ crackdown on Tibetan intellectuals and cultural leaders.
Last month, RFA learned that Tibetan writer and poet Gendun Lhundrub, who was held incommunicado for more than a year after his 2020 arrest, is being held in a prison in Siling (Xining).
The former monk at Rongwo Monastery had been watched by authorities for signs of political dissent before he was detained and was arrested in western China’s Qinghai province on his way to a religious debate in Rebgong.
Lhundrub is reportedly undergoing political re-education and has to translate Tibetan Buddhist scripts into Mandarin Chinese, which the Chinese Communist Party requires to teach Tibetan Buddhist studies.
Chinese authorities have frequently detained Tibetan writers and artists who promote Tibetan national identity and culture – many of whom have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms – following regional protests against Chinese rule that have swept across Tibet. and the Tibetan areas of western provinces of China in 2008.
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 Joshua Lipes.