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Monk harassed, detained, beaten, allegedly tortured by authorities over critical writings

(WiPC/IFEX) - WiPC is seriously concerned about reports that Tibetan monk and writer Venerable Rinchen Sangpo has been subject to harassment and ill treatment by the authorities since August 2006, when he was released from one month's detention without charge. PEN is seriously concerned that Rinchen Sangpo appears to be targeted for his critical writings, and calls on the authorities to ensure his right to free expression in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

According to information received by International PEN in August 2007, Rinchen Sangpo has been subject to harassment by the authorities, which has been worsening since January 2007. He was first arrested on or around 19 July 2006 and held without charge for a month, apparently for his critical writings. He has since been subject to movement restrictions and repeated harassment by the authorities. He was reportedly arrested again on 4 April 2007 in Amdo Golak while on his way to a religious festival, and held for five days in various police stations and beaten by officers. He also claims to have been tortured whilst in police custody. He has since been living in hiding in rural Tibet.

Although no charges have been brought against Rinchen Sangpo, it is thought he is targeted for his critical writings, most recently two unpublished works entitled "The Story of Blood" and "The Story of Lhasa". Richen Sangpo has been known to the Chinese authorities since 2004, when his work "No Retreating Path" was recalled shortly after publication by the Chinese Authorities as it was deemed to be political. Rinchen Sangpo is editor of the periodical "Tune of Shachi River", and is known for his poetry, short stories and articles published in various literary magazines and newspapers in Tibet. One of his most recent manuscripts is said to have been turned down for publication by Sambhoda publishing house.

Rinchen Sangpo was born in 1974, in the Tibetan Autonomous Region. He joined Tsa-Nga Monastry at the age of 16, going on to pursue further Buddhist studies under the direction of various scholars, and joining the Drepung Monastry in Lhasa City in 1999. He is currently unable to return to Drepung Monastery because of fears for his safety. Drepung Monastery has a history of political dissent, and other monks taken up by International PEN as main cases include Venerable Ngawang Phulchung, who was singled out as the leader of a group of Drepung monks who were secretly producing literature critical of the Chinese government in early 1988, and was sentenced in 1989 to 19 years in prison.

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