Rinchen Zhuzhen was sentenced to for “inciting separatism” in WeChat conversations.
by Deng Huizhong
We all know that WeChat conversations are monitored, but a Tibetan monk in Sichuan forgot it and paid the price.
Rinchen Zhuzhen is from Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture, also known as Aba, in Sichuan province. Many do not know that the majority of Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China do not live in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) but are divided into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan. In fact, historical Tibet was split by China for political reasons: roughly half is present-day TAR, the other half was included in the above-mentioned four Chinese provinces. The Aba area is of special concern to the CCP because it is the world capital of self-immolation, with the highest number of Tibetan monks who set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese regime.
This is why repression of Tibetan Buddhism and culture in Aba is described by some as worse than in the TAR. The case of monk Rinchen Zhuzhen seems to confirm this. His sister Gonsang Drolma, who lives in India, confirmed via social media last week that he has been sentenced to four and a half years in jail for “inciting separatism.” This week, she has confirmed he is detained in Mianyang Prison in Sichuan province.
But what did Rinchen Zhuzhen exactly do to earn such a severe jail sentence? The monk, his sister says, had already been arrested twice, in 2018 and 2019, after his WeChat conversations with her had been monitored and recorded. It seems he had expressed a favorable opinion of the Dalai Lama.
He was arrested again after another long conversation where he said that the CCP-appointed Panchen Lama is not the real Panchen Lama. The monk said that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who was recognized by the Dalai Lama and was kidnapped by the Chinese at the age of six in 1995, is the real Panchen Lama. This determined Rinchen Zhuzhen’s new arrest, detention, and sentence.
Notwithstanding the official propaganda, the repression of Tibetan Buddhists continues. The world should not focus on the TAR only. There is a possibility that the worst atrocities occur in the Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan provinces, where, as mentioned earlier, the majority of the Tibetans residing inside Chinese borders live.