Samdrub and Gangkye Drubpa Kyab

(Left) Samdrub, detained less than a month after his release from prison.
(Right) Tibetan writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab – who wrote a book on the protests in Tibet in 2008, who has been detained just a day after his release from prison.

Two Tibetans, including a prominent writer, who had just been released after serving several years in prison have been detained again in the last few days, according to sources. Both Tibetans, writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab – who wrote a book on the protests in Tibet in 2008 – and 35-year old Samdrub, are from Serthar (Chinese: Seda) in Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Kham, eastern Tibet) in Sichuan.

Prominent Tibetan writer Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, a teacher by profession, was released from prison and allowed to return home on September 16 (2016), a year before the end of his five and a half- year prison sentence. The next day, he was detained again and is back in detention, according to former political prisoner and monk Golok Jigme, who is based in Switzerland, and other Tibetan sources. Golog Jigme also reported that Samdrub was detained again on Sunday (September 18), less than a month after his release from prison after serving five years.

According to Golog Jigme, both Tibetans may be accused of some sort of political activity; it is not known if they may face new charges. Radio Free Asia reported that after a grand Tibetan reception for Gangkye Drubpa Kyab following his release, police took him back again into custody, and “warned him that if he does not change his thoughts and embrace the official political line, he could be thrown back into jail,” according to a Tibetan source (Radio Free Asia, September 23, 2016). A second local source said that Kyab is now being held at the Serthar county detention center.

Gangkye Drubpa Kyab

Gangkye Drubpa Kyab is greeted by supporters following his release from prison, Sept. 16, 2016.
(Photo sent by an RFA listener)

book cover

The cover of Gangkye Drukpa Kyab’s book about the 2008 protests in Tibet.

Gangkye Drubpa Kyab, 36, a popular writer, was welcomed with traditional scarves and an image of the Dalai Lama upon his return home to his village in Serthar at around 5 pm on September 16. The Chinese authorities increasingly seek to prevent such expressions of respect and solidarity from the community when political prisoners are released; sometimes by releasing people late at night or warning of repercussions of such ceremonies.

Kyab was first detained on February 15, 2012, and taken to a detention center in Dartsedo (Kangding) county before being transferred to prison. A Tibetan source told Radio Free Asia that his five and a half year sentence was for “instigating campaigns for Tibet” (RFA, September 16, 2016).

Gangye Drubpa Kyab had taught in two different schools in the Serthar area, including one run by a prominent Tibetan lama who is one of the senior teachers at the Buddhist institute of Larung Gar in Serthar county.[1] His book on the suffering endured by Tibetans and the 2008 protests was well-known among Tibetans and was part of the backdrop of his imprisonment. The Chinese PEN Centre, an official affiliate of International PEN, a global association of writers dedicated to freedom of expression and the defense of writers suffering governmental repression, recognizes Gangye Drubpa Kyab as an honorary member.

Less is known about the charges against Samdrub, who was detained again on September 18. Samdrub had been released from prison around August 20 (2016), according to the Tibetan NGO Gu Chu Sum, based in Dharamsala, India. He had been in prison since June 13, 2012 under suspicion of involvement in political activity, although details are not known. Samdrub is from the Gonchuk region in Kardze, Sichuan.

The dangers for former political prisoners upon release have become more pronounced; the intention of the authorities is to control and isolate these former prisoners, and to create a visible deterrent to other Tibetans who may seek to express views that are counter to those of the Beijing leadership.Typically, former prisoners face profound fear and anxiety upon their release, combined with a constant awareness of being under surveillance and at risk of being detained again. Their psychological suffering is often heightened by the knowledge that their family and friends are also under pressure from the authorities. They often suffer from severe financial hardship as they are dependent on their families, often unable to find work due to their status as a former political prisoner. Monks and nuns are not permitted to return to their monasteries or nunneries. Sometimes they cannot afford medical treatment needed following severe torture or years of poor nutrition in prison.[2]

[1] See ICT report of demolitions and expulsions at the Larung Gar religious institute, September 15, 2016, https://www.

[2] ICT report on ‘Torture and Impunity’, https://www.