Senior Tibetan Buddhist scholar sentenced to 12 years in prison

Venerable Tenzin Lhundup
Venerable Tenzin Lhundup

A senior Tibetan monk has been sentenced to twelve years of rigorous imprisonment Diru (Ch: Biru) county, Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Venerable Tenzin Lhundup, an accomplished Buddhist scholar at Gom Gongsar Monastery in Lenchu(Ch: Liangqu) township of Diru County, was sentenced in May 2015, according to reliable information received by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

Venerable Tenzin Lhundup was sentenced after a year of his arbitrary detention in May 2014. For almost a year, he had been detained in Lhasa and the police did not provide any information to his family and friends about his whereabouts or condition. The news of his sentencing was the only confirmation his family had about his status in over a year, that he had somehow survived the beatings and torture in detention.

TCHRD earlier reported in July 2014 on the arbitrary detention of the Buddhist scholar in May 2014 when he was addressing a public gathering about the on the “status of Tibetan language and nationality” (Tib. mi rigs dang skad yig ki gnas bab skor) to villagers of Shagchu (Ch: Xiaqu) Diru County as requested by the local Tibetans on one of his visits to the area.[i] Immediately, a group of Chinese police arrived at the spot and took him away. He was detained on a Wednesday – the Dalai Lama’s ‘soul day’. A source told TCHRD that on every Wednesday, which is observed in many parts of Tibet as Lhakar or the ‘soul day’ of the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Lhundrup used to give Buddhist teachings to the local Tibetans, help arbitrate disputes, and advocate vegetarianism. He is known also for zealously advocating the need to preserve Tibetan identity. All of these initiatives had earned him much respect and admiration from the local Tibetans.

Tenzin Lhundup was born and raised in Geney Village of Shagchu (Ch:Xiaqu) township of Diru county. He was ordained as a Buddhist monk at Gongsar Monstery at Lenchu since his early childhood. In 2008, he did intensive retreat and meditation at Medro Gungkar (Ch: Mozhugongka) county and Drikung Thil Monastery for three years. During this period, he attempted to widen his knowledge by studying a large number of scriptures and other cultural discourses. Local Tibetans usually regard him as a Buddhist scholar with a strong sense of nationalism and conviction to work for the development of one’s cultural heritages.

Soon after his retreat, he returned to his hometown and took initiative to teach his fellow monks at Gom Gongsar Monastery. Apart from his daily routines, Tenzin Lhundup organized special programs in the nearby towns on every Wednesday like introduction on Buddhism, education on conflict resolution and encouraging the local Tibetans to become vegetarian.

Tenzin Lhundrup had been under the radar of Chinese security forces ever since he spearheaded the local opposition to Chinese mining activities at the sacred Naglha Dzamba Mountain in the area last year.[ii] “He regularly gave speeches to the local Tibetans to protect the sacred mountain from Chinese miners, and once he publicly offered khatags (ceremonial scarves) to the members of a local committee set up to protect the mountain as mark of respect and appreciation for their resistance against mining,” said the source.

An undated image of Tenzin Lhundrup acknowledging the members of Naglha Dzambha Mountain Protection Committee for resisting mining activities.
An undated image of Tenzin Lhundrup acknowledging the members of Naglha Dzambha Mountain Protection Committee for resisting mining activities.

When local Tibetans enquired at the time of his detention from the public gathering, the Chinese police had alleged that Tenzin Lhundup had engaged in ‘anti-governmental activities’ for many years, and that he has been one of the protesters against mining activities at Ngalha Dzamba. Neither his family nor local Tibetans received any information of his whereabouts for a long time since then. Recently, they have discovered that he was sentenced for twelve years of severe detention from Lhasa.



[i] Senior Buddhist scholar arrested as repression escalates in restive Tibetan county

[ii] For more on crackdown in Shagchu Town, see the previous updates: ‘Writer among nine Tibetans sentenced to prison in Diru’ at disappears a father of three, arrests 10 others in ongoing crackdown in Diru at


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