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Chinese Authorities Arrest Tibetan Man for Having a Photo of the Dalai Lama

Karma Samdup - credit: RFA
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Sangyal Kunchok  | Radio Free Asia

Karma Samdup was swept up in China’s campaign against Tibetan culture, a Tibetan in exile says.

Chinese authorities in Tibet have detained a Tibetan man for possessing a picture of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s foremost Buddhist spiritual leader who has been living in exile since 1959, RFA has learned.

Karma Samdup, of Sernye township of Nagchu county (in Chinese, Nagqu), had a picture of the 14th Dalai Lama around his neck and hanging in his car when authorities arrested him on Aug. 12, a Tibetan living in exile, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“His arrest is part of the Chinese government’s Strike Hard Campaign where they are cracking down on Tibetans. As of now, we don’t have much information on Samdup’s whereabouts,” the source said. 

“He was arrested amidst tight restrictions placed in Lhasa recently. The Chinese government arrested him for the ‘separatist act’ of possessing a picture of the Dalai Lama,” said the source.

Information about where Karma Samdup is being held was not available.

The Strike Hard Campaign is an effort by the Chinese government to target advocates of Tibet’s separation from China. The campaign started in 1996 and has resulted in the disappearance, torture, and long prison sentences of participants of non-violent political and religious activity, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.  

RFA reported in January that Chinese authorities ordered that Tibetans looking for work in the public sector must renounce all ties to the Dalai Lama as a condition for employment. 

Youdon, another young Tibetan, was arrested on July 11 for possession of the Dalai Lama’s photograph. Authorities had been on high alert in the days surrounding the Dalai Lama’s 87th birthday on July 6. 

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