A Tibetan poet known for publishing works critical of Chinese policies in Tibet died last week from health problems tied to alcohol consumption following periods of arrest and interrogation by Chinese police, according to a source in Tibet.
Tsepa, who wrote under the name Chenbang, died on Aug. 19 at the Chigdril County Hospital in Sichuan’s Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“He had been detained and questioned earlier by the Chinese government for writing about Tibetan issues,” the source said.
Born in 1992 in Chigdril, Tsepa was a graduate of Gansu province’s Northwest University for Nationalities and had written at least five books, along with poetry published on creative-writing websites online, RFA’s source said, adding that Tsepa wrote his poems in a “unique style.”
“He was also interested in other subjects, and while he was studying at the Northwest University for Nationalities he wrote articles that criticized the Chinese government, for which he was arrested and interrogated many times,” he said.
Tibetan scholars and poets inside Tibet are now widely sharing Tsepa’s poems, and are praising him for his contributions to Tibet’s culture and the Tibetan language, the source added.
Writers, singers, and artists promoting Tibetan national identity have frequently been arrested and handed long jail terms by Chinese authorities, with informally organized courses promoting the study of the Tibetan language now typically deemed “illegal associations,” sources say.
Formerly an independent nation, Tibet was invaded and incorporated into China by force 70 years ago.
Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the region, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of cultural and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.
Reported by Sangyal Kunchok for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.