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Tibetan Writer, Lobsang Lhundup, Freed After Four Years Behind Bars, But Remains Under Surveillance

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: August 15, 2023
Tibetan writer Lobsang Lhundup, shown here in an undated photo, was released from prison, only to be placed under scrutiny by Chinese authorities. (Image: courtesy Radio Free Asia)

After being detained in jail for four years on dubious charges, Tibetan writer Lobsang Lhundup — known by his pen name, Dhi Lhaden — was released from prison at the beginning of August.

Having written a book that criticized the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) reign in Tibet, Lhundup was detained in June 201 and held incommunicado for two years before being sentenced to jail. Those close to him suspect that his arrest was connected to his teachings of Tibetan history at a private cultural education center in Chengdu, an anonymous source told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

“It appears that someone told the owner of the cultural center about the teaching materials he was using, and so he was arrested.”

According to sources for Tibet Watch, the writer’s trial was held in secret, with him alone hearing his sentence.

“Lhundup is a friendly person and known to many people, and his friends have avoided talking about him till now in the hope that he might be released,” a source said while Lhundup was jailed.

Sources say that Lhundup was born in Sichuan province’s Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. After becoming a monk at age 11, and studying at the Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy, he went on to teach Buddhism in Lhasa, the regional capital of Tibet. 

He then traveled around Tibet in his youth, publishing books about the 2018 protests against the CCP’s occupation of Tibetan areas. In one book, Tungol Trimtug, he wrote,  “What really destroys peace and stability are not acts that resist the whims of tyrants, but those that appease them. As long as the citizens remain like slaves by acquiescing to the tyrants’ demands, there shall be more violation of fundamental rights.”

Such writings have landed him in hot water with communist authorities.

The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) called out China’s unjust sentencing of Lhundup, urging authorities to release him after the sentence was delivered.


Under surveillance

Tibetan language news outlet Tibet Times said that Lhundup’s physical health appears stable, but the situation regarding his release has raised red flags.

Now, the writer is reportedly being held under surveillance, Tibetan news portal Phayul reported.

The Tibetan Times report also said that Lhundup, after his release, has been “mandated to provide regular updates” on his location and activities to the authorities.

While the specific reasons behind this surveillance are unknown, Lhundup will be held back from participating in activities with the CCP’s watchful eye on him. His communication channels are also being “closely monitored.”

Lhundup is among many Tibetan creatives detained by the CCP for promoting Tibetan national identity and culture, who were subjected to long jail terms.  Language rights have become a primary concern for those seeking to spread awareness.

However, these efforts were deemed illegal by the authorities, making teachers vulnerable to detention and arrest, sources say.