China frees Tibetan writer Shokjang after 3 years in prison | Books | DW | 22.03.2018
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China frees Tibetan writer Shokjang after 3 years in prison

Tibetan blogger and writer Shokjang, detained for three years for "inciting separatism," has been released. Advocacy group PEN International has said he remains under strict control from the authorities.

Shokjang, Tibetan author (Golog Jigme)

File photo, taken before Shokjang's arrest in May 2015

Tibetan writer and poet Druklo, who uses the pen name Shokjang, has been released from prison after three years.

He was arrested in May 2015, presumably for having posted on the social network WeChat an essay reporting on the growing presence of Chinese security forces in an autonomous district of Tibet.

A year after his arrest, Shokjang was sentenced to three years in prison for "inciting separatism."

"The Chinese government is particularly afraid of writers and intellectuals who criticize censorship," said Nadine Baumann, director of the Tibet Initiative Germany, which works for the self-determination of the Tibetan people and the protection of human rights.
 
Despite Shokjang's release on Monday, Tibet Initiative Germany and other human rights groups remain concerned. "No reliable information about his health has been made public yet, and no [recent] picture of him either," said Regula Venske, president of PEN Germany.

Read more: 'The Communist Party keeps their people well-fed, but in a cage'

Shokjang, Schriftsteller Tibet (Kunchok Dhondup)

In 2008, Shokjang (right) organized a march in commemoration of Tibetan victims

Anniversary of Tibet riots

"This is very unusual and suggests that both his family and his friends are under tight surveillance," Tibet Initiative Germany spokesperson Alicia Barreda Perez told DW. It has, however, been confirmed that the writer has been released from custody. 

Ten years after the 2008 Tibetan unrest, a series of riots that began with non-violent demonstrations by Buddhist monks in March of that year, Chinese authorities are currently very strict, Perez said.

Dalai Lama in Prague (picture-alliance/AP Photo/D. Josek)

The Dalai Lama fled to India in March 1959

In 1950, the Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet, leading to the country's incorporation into the People's Republic of China. In March 1959, the Tibetan Uprising was bloodily suppressed by China.

The Dalai Lama fled to India, about 90,000 Tibetans were killed and just as many fled to other countries. Tibetan Buddhism was suppressed, and members of the clergy were persecuted and imprisoned. 

Tibet remains under Chinese sovereignty to this day.

Last week, a collection of essays, articles and poetry written by Shokjang before his arrest was published in Germany under the title "Für Freiheit bereue ich nichts" ("For Liberty, I Have No Regrets"). A reading of his work criticizing China's policies in Tibet was held at the Leipzig Book Fair.

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