Popular Tibetan musicians arrested by China’s state security police

This is not a good time to be criticizing the Chinese government, implicitly or explicitly. From AFP:

Chinese state security officials have arrested a popular Tibetan singer and a composer, apparently because of the implicit political content of their music, an official said.

The singer and composer, known as Namkha and Bakocha respectively, were taken into custody around March 10 in Tongde county, a traditionally Tibetan area now part of northwest China’s Qinghai province, a police officer and the US-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) said.

“It was the state security police who arrested them,” said a Tibetan police officer in Tongde county’s public security bureau.

“I don’t know what charges were filed against them, but it was because of political reasons,” said the officer, who identified himself as Wu Jianchu. The two men sang folk songs and were popular in the area and famous throughout the province, Wu told AFP.

The arrests appear to have been prompted by the mildly political content of Namkha’s songs, RFA sources said. The songs in question are titled “Tsenpoe Poinya,” or “King’s Messenger,” and “Amdo Pogoe,” meaning “Courageous Amdo Man.”

But an RFA source said: “There isn’t actually any serious (explicit) political content, but it all depends how you interpret them.”

Chinese state security officials in Qinghai’s Hainan prefecture are confiscating all CDs made by the men.

“All their CDs have been confiscated by the police,” Wu said.

Both men come from a nomadic area in Qinghai. Bakocha is a monk at the Ba Shangtse Monastery in Tongde county.

Local security officials went to the monastery and instructed the monks to surrender those CDs, RFA said. They warned the monks that they would face “serious consequences” if they were found to possess Namkha’s music, the source said.

Chinese state security officials in the area could not be reached for comment. The two men’s whereabouts are unknown. The arrests follow reports indicating that Chinese officials were taking a tougher stance on dissent among Tibetans.

I am watching carefully for the reforms to materialize, even hints, in regard to political expression. There has been a slew of recent stories of repression, from the arrest of newspaper editors to the spreading “blogout” to the continuing persecution of cyber-dissidents, that don’t make me optimistic. All the stories indicate that in this area things are getting worse, not better.

The Discussion: One Comment

Human Rights

A number of the blogs that I read (including Peking Duck and North Korea Zone) have recently focused on what seemed to be an increase in repression in China. The actions include increased censorship (including what is almost certainly a block on all Ty…

April 3, 2004 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.