PEN International is seriously concerned about the detention of writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, who has been held incommunicado at an unknown location since February 15, 2012. PEN urgently seeks further information about his whereabouts, well-being, and any charges against him, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Background Information

According to the Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser, Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, 33, was arrested without a warrant by a team of 20 police officers at his home in Serthar county, Sichuan Province, just before midnight on February 15, 2012. His present condition and place of detention is unknown. His arrest comes amid escalating tensions in Tibetan areas in recent weeks, following a series of self-immolations and protests against Chinese rule, which have been violently suppressed by the security forces. Arrests have been widespread. The Guardian gives the following background:
Tibetans and the Chinese government in the region have been engaging in a cycle of protest and repression that erupted into violent unrest in recent weeks. More than 20 Tibetans have separately set themselves on fire to protest against controls on Buddhist monasteries and other repressive measures over the past year.

In response security forces have further tightened controls and increased arrests. US-based Human Rights Watch said last week that Chinese authorities had detained hundreds of Tibetans who recently returned from trips to India to attend sermons by the Dalai Lama, their exiled spiritual leader.

In Serthar, also known as Seda, Tibetan protesters clashed with security forces last month, leaving at least two Tibetans dead. The government said the protesters had attacked a police station. It was not known whether Drubpa Kyab was involved in the protests.
Drubpa Kyab is said to be a well-known and popular writer, and according to Radio Free Asia (RFA), his popular compositions include "Call of Fate," "Pain of This Era," and "Today’s Tear of Pain." He has worked as a teacher in Serthar for almost a decade.

Drubpa Kyab's detention comes two weeks after the arrest of government researcher Dawa Dorje, a popular advocate of Tibet’s traditional culture and language, who is believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities after organizing a conference promoting Tibetan culture. His whereabouts are unknown.

In March 2008, the Chinese authorities launched a crackdown in the Tibet Autonomous Region, after anti-government protests took place in Lhasa and other areas, with reports of arbitrary arrests and use of excessive force against dissidents. Tight restrictions on reporting from the Tibetan region remain in force and arrests are continuing. Writers, singers, and artists promoting Tibetan national identity and culture are among those to have been targeted, and many have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing serious concern regarding the arrest of Tibetan writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, and seeking details of the charges against him;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

President of the People’s Republic of China
His Excellency Hu Jintao
State Council
Beijing 100032
People's Republic of China

Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Party Committee
Zhang Qingli
Zhonggong Xizang Zizhiqu Weiyuanhui
Lhasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
People's Republic of China

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for China in your country if possible.

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after March 15, 2012: ftw [at]