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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Hundreds detained for expressing Tibetan unity

February 3, 2014

January 31, 2014 - Chinese authorities in the Chamdo region of Tibet have detained nearly 500 Tibetans for taking part in a grassroots unity campaign. In a separate incident a Tibetan has been detained and tortured after Dalai Lama photos and speeches were found on his mobile phone.

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA) sources, three Tibetans were detained by Chinese police on 2 January, having been caught in possession of photos of the Panchen Lama and wearing armbands expressing Tibetan unity. The detentions took place in Karma town, Chamdo (Chinese: Chandgu or Qamdo) prefecture, U-Tsang (now China's Tibet Autonomous Region).

Two days later, Chinese police raided Damthok and Tsala villages in Chamdo county and detained 480 Tibetans who were found to have the unity armbands. RFA quoted a source as saying the detainees were being held in "extremely harsh conditions" in Karma town.

There has been no further information on the condition of those detained or whether they have been released.

In a separate incident, on 14 January, Chinese police detained a Tibetan in Lhasa after photos of the Dalai Lama and recordings of The Dalai Lama's teachings were found on his mobile phone.

Norgay, a labourer from Dingri county, Shigatse (Ch: Rikaze) prefecture, was seized during a random police check in the capital. According to a RFA source, Norgay was tortured whilst being held in detention and told to
"sever all connections with outside contacts". Norgay's current condition is not known or if he is still in detention.

Tibetans caught with 'political' images, such as the Tibet flag, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, face harsh punishments including prison sentences. In February 2013, Ngawang Tobden, a 20 year-old student, was jailed for two years after images of a Tibet flag and two self-immolators were discovered on his phone.

According to RFA the unity armband has now also been banned by the Chinese government, who have been cracking down on all forms of expression of Tibetan identity, including songs, poetry, essays and even Tibetan language lessons.

The Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, was abducted by the Chinese authorities in 1995 at the age of six and has not been seen since. The Chinese government has refused all requests for visits by international observers and failed to produce any proof of his well-being.

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