Dharamshala — The Tibetan Writers Abroad PEN Centre on November 15th launched a bilingual book titled ‘Freedom and Equality’, a collection of Shokjang’s writings and poems, at the event organized to commemorate the imprisoned writers.
Shokjang is a prolific Tibetan author and poet who has been detained by Chinese authorities several times over the year and was most recently sentenced to three years in prison in February 2016.
“We hope that the book will draw attention to status of Tibetan writers and lack of freedom of expression in Tibet under Chinese rule,” said Pema Choedon of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), who collaborated with PEN in publishing the detained poet’s works.
Thupten Samphel, Executive Director of Tibet Policy Institute, and Acharya Karma Monlam, former CTA official, attended the event as chief guests.
“I am here to show my solidarity for this initiative, since our exile government stands for peaceful approach and dialogue to solving our longstanding issues with China. If we can bring change in their mindset through the writings and dialogue, it will be a big asset for us,” said Thupten Samphel.
Acharya Karma Monlam expressed concerns over future generation’s grasp, understanding and background of the poems and writings. He stated that the responsibility falls on the present generation to improve the Tibetan standard for the future generations.
“I would suggest that in order for the future generation to understand better, writers must come to their level while writing. So that they would enjoy reading and writing Tibetan and cultivate a strong base,” he said.
PEN international in their statement stated that they condemn and oppose Shokjang’s arrest for expressing his dissent and the sentencing to three years in prison by the People’s Intermediate Court of Malho prefecture on February 17.
“I feel that such initiative plays an important role in extending our support and solidarity to all those writers suffering at the hands of China. It also signifies our appeal for their immediate release and our objection towards China detaining Tibetans who are using their freedom of speech,” said Sonam Tseten, a student at Sarah and an aspiring poet.
According to TCHRD, since 2008 over 70 Tibetan writers, poets and educationists have been arrested for expressing dissent.