Chinese authorities have sentenced two Tibetan monks to at least three years in prison for possessing photos of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s foremost Buddhist spiritual leader who has been living in exile since 1959, media reports said.
Tenzin Dhargye, a monk in his 30s, was arrested in September 2020, and sources said that several other monks had been arrested along with him, RFA reported.
RFA has since learned that Rigtse, whose age is unknown, was among them. Tenzin Dhargye got three years and six months, while Rigtse was sentenced to three years.
Both monks were among the 250 living at the Barong monastery in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Sershul county. They had photos of the Dalai Lama on their cell phones and have been in custody for the past two years, RFA reported.
“In May of this year they both were convicted of committing an act of ‘separatism’ by possessing photos of the Dalai Lama,” the source said.
“They were both convicted by the People’s Court in Sershul county and no one knows how fair the trial was as their families and relatives were not allowed to see them,” said the source.
“Tibetans are threatened by the Chinese authorities so they do not share or discuss any information about them, so we don’t know about their health or which prison they are detained in.”
“Since 2021, the Chinese government has been aggressively inspecting each and every home and threatening Tibetans, telling them that possessing photos of the Dalai Lama is as felonious as possessing arms and guns.”