Sixth Family Member Detained by Chinese Authorities

Tashi Topgyal

Chinese authorities arrested Tashi Topgyal, a Tibetan teacher, in Tibet's capital Lhasa Monday, making him the sixth member of his family to be detained by the Chinese authorities.

Topgyal was visiting Lhasa from his hometown Chamdo in eastern Tibet, to find the whereabouts of his half brother Richen Dorje, a monk who was arrested while meditating in a cave as part of his hermit vows in Nyarong.

Topgyal traced the monk to a hospital in Xinjiang, where he had been treated for burns. Chinese Police told he burned himself while trying to escape from prison. Dorje who had been missing since March was the translator for the jailed environmentalist Karma Samdrup twelve years ago in Xinjiang.

Five relatives of Topgyal have been arrested since last year including the three environmentalist brothers once lauded by Beijing for their environmental work.

Two brothers Rinchen Samdrup and Chime Namgyal were detained in August after accusing the local officials in eastern Tibet of poaching endangered species.

Samdrup was accused of posting an article about the nobel peace prize winner, referring to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on his environmental website.On Saturday, he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of "incitement to split the country." Namgyal has been given a 21-month sentence of "re-education through labor" for allegedly harming national security.

The third brother, Karma Samdrup was sentenced to 15 years in prison last month for decade-old charges of dealing with looted antiquities. His wife Dolkar Tso said his charges are false, and that he was arrested for speaking in defense of his two brothers.

Topgyal’s three brothers are among many prominent Tibetan intellectuals who have been imprisoned within the last year.