Rinchen Tsultrium, a Tibetan monk from Kundo in Ngaba County of Amdo, in Tibet. Photo: TPI

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Dharamshala, India — Rinchen Tsultrium, a Tibetan monk from Kundo in Ngaba County of Amdo, in Tibet was arrested on the night of August 1, 2019, along with two other monks. The two companions were released to go back to the monastery after a while. Rinchen Tsultrium was confined continuously in connection to his discussions and writing on Tibet issues with Tibetans abroad.

According to a reliable source, he was imprisoned in Ngaba, Bakham since then and nothing else related to him is heard and known to his family and relatives. His arrest was believed to be related to his activities in 2018. He was arrested twice with his younger brother Norbu Tsering in 2018 for discussing Tibetan issues with a Tibetan outside Tibet.

The Chinese police came to know of this when they seized his cell phone and censored it. He was detained and banned from using WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging app. In 2019 on His Holiness the 11th Panchen Lama’s birthday, he talked with a Tibetan living abroad for more than two hours which was voice tapped by Chinese authorities, the source told the TPI, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He was also accused of importing rare and important scripts from outside Tibet and spreading them across many regions inside Tibet through post offices. He has also been blamed for writing many Tibet related topics on his personal blog, ‘Chetawa’ which has also been closed later. Earlier, he posted on social media, WeChat photos of his younger sister Kunsang Dolma studying in India attending educational conferences.

The Chinese authorities implicated him by relating the act to be a political activity, as reported by sources. Since then, he was under tight surveillance of local Chinese authorities and his every move was being restricted. His families and friends are highly concerned about his whereabouts and wellbeing. But his family is from a very humble farmer background and there was nothing much they could do nor do the family hear about his imprisonment from the Chinese authorities.

Rinchen Tsultrium is a 29-year-old monk from Sichuan, Amdo Nagaba from a humble family of farmers in Kashul village. He has studied the philosophy of the Bon tradition. He has been studying in Nanshig Monastery which is one of the largest centers for Bon studies since he was six years old. His father Tashi Dhondup is 68 years old and his mother Tsomo is 57 years old. His siblings are Dukmo Kyi, Kunsang Dolma, Norbu Tsering, and Phulrab Tso. He was an intelligent and hard-working man since he was young. He likes reasoning and logical philosophies. He is especially very concerned about the Tibetan language and Tibetan people. He is invested in international current affairs, history, and very open-minded. The young monk is liked by everyone, particularly people at the monastery and his town.

He is someone who holds the belief that Tibetan traditional knowledge along with modern education will bring great change for the better. He further acknowledges that norms that do not benefit and resonate with modern ways and thinking should be corrected. He recognizes that Tibet’s hope for the future is to have specializations in the Tibetan language and a basic idea in Tibetan traditional knowledge should be founded. His idea of having patriotism for one’s nation is how and whether people protect their own language. One could clearly know his boundless love for his country, Tibet through all his writings, discussions, and talks.

It has been more than one year and seven months since his arrest on 1st of August, 2019, but his sentence terms are not specified yet and there is absolutely nothing clear about his detention so far from the Chinese authorities. But a notice was made and received by Rinchen’s families on March 23, 2020. The notice states that he violated article number 124 under Chinese Constitutional law and he is labeled as anti-nationalist. Except that nothing else is known to anyone whether is still alive, condition of his health and place of imprisonment, etc.