Tibetan Nomad arrested for 2008 protests ‘missing’

Friday, August 17 2012 @ 03:03 pm BST

A 34-year old Tibetan nomad, Shonu Palden, who was detained last June by Chinese security officers has gone 'missing', a family friend of Shonu tells TCHRD.

Shonu was arrested on 18 June 2012 from his home in Rongkor nomadic area in Belpen village in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) County, Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, for allegedly leading protests in 2008.

“A group of officers from the local Stability Maintenance Bureau and Public Security Bureau arrested Shonu on 18 June and took him to the county detention centre where he was subjected to beatings and sustained questioning,” the family friend said quoting local sources in the area.

On 10 August 2012, a relative who went to deliver some food for Shonu was told by the gatekeeper of the detention centre that Shonu had been transferred elsewhere. Efforts to learn more about his condition and whereabouts at the county PSB office failed. The county PSB chief has issued verbal threats and intimidations against those who try to approach the PSB office for details on Shonu.

“When a relative asked about Shonu’s whereabouts, the head of the PSB office told him that he too would be arrested on same charges as Shonu if he visited the PSB office again for information,” the family friend tells TCHRD.

On 20 June, two days after Shonu’s arrest, a group of local Tibetans who had approached the county authorities inquiring about the arrest was told that Shonu had been arrested on suspicion that he spear-headed protests in Machu County in 2008. The authorities then said Shonu would remain in detention for a month for interrogation.

However, even after a month, no formal charges were made and a relative once saw Shonu at the local police station. “In July this year, someone (name withheld) saw Shonu at the local detention centre with his feet and hands chained to an old rusty-looking iron chair,” the family friend said.

In 2008, following widespread protests in Machu County, Chinese authorities issued order for Shonu's arrest but the young nomad escaped immediate arrest by hiding in remote mountains for many months, sources told TCHRD.

In December 2011, Shonu was given final warning to turn himself in exchange for reduced sentence but he refused until his arrest this past June.

On 8 April 2010, the local PSB personnel detained Tashi Gyatso, an elder brother of Shonu. A monk at Sarma Monastery in Machu County, Tashi Gyatso was suspected of "accessing and sharing banned Tibetan content on the internet, contacting by phone with foreign [Tibetan] contacts, and connecting a television in his room to watch foreign broadcasts [Voice of America]." Since his detention, Tashi’s whereabouts remained unknown for months until his release the same year. he has been released.

Shonu has a wife and two young children; one child is around three years old and the other is a few months old infant. His father’s name is Gontse and his mother is Dechen.

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