Continuing arrests in Tibet: China imprisons family members as well

Chinese repression affects others besides artist Ai Weiwei

On the occasion of the arrest of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and more than two dozen other dissidents, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) points out that Chinese security forces do not shrink from arresting family members in their attempts to capture dissidents. The human rights organization reported on Monday in Göttingen that three Tibetans were arrested in March 2011 in Tibetan settlement areas in the Sichuan province solely because members of their families were sought by police for taking part in demonstrations.

"The arbitrary arrest of innocent family members shows that China is still light years from establishing the rule of law," said Ulrich Delius of the STP's Asia section. "Germany has been holding a dialog with China on the rule of law for more than ten years but at the end of the day, party politics and "national interest" still have the upper hand when dealing with regime critics."

The police are searching feverishly for the three young Tibetans Lobsang Thubten (30), Tsering Kyipo (25) and Jampa Ngodrup (33). On 6 March 2011 in the city of Dzakhog, they unfurled banners demanding freedom for Tibet and free entry for the Dalai Lama, currently living in exile in India. All of the houses in the city were searched in police raids. In the end, police arrested Jampa Ngodrup's brother, Lobsang Thubten's mother and Tsering Kyipo's father. Their families were told that they would be released when the three sought by police turned themselves in. In addition, the families were made to pay fines of 2140 euros each, a heavy punishment in the impoverished Tibetan region.

In the Tibetan settlement areas in the province of Sichuan, which has a strong Chinese culture outside the Tibetan areas, Tibetans are arrested for political reasons every week. On March 10, two young men were arrested in the city of Bathang after they publicly called out: "Long live the Dalai Lama!"

On March 23, several hundred Tibetans in the town of Nahdah protested against Chinese rule. At least eight demonstrators were arrested. They are faced with prison sentences of many years.

In the Kirti monastery, 21-year-old monk Tenzin was arrested on 25 March. The situation in his monastery is very tense ever since a monk set himself on fire in a public square on 16 March 2011 to commemorate the brutal crushing of Tibetan protests three years earlier. The suicide of 21-year-old Phuntsok sparked an international outcry.