China detains popular Tibetan singer

DHARAMSHALA: The Chinese government has detained a Tibetan singer popularly known as ‘contemporary Tibet’s young nightingale’ for singing a “politically-subversive” song at a concert last year, a human rights watchdog reported Friday.

Kelsang Yarphel, a 37-year-old singer from Machu in Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in eastern Tibet, and some other Tibetan musicians and singers organised a concert in October and November last year and sang a song titled “Bhodpa Tso (Fellow Tibetans) whose lyrics were deemed ‘politically subversive’ by the Chinese authorities, reported Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).

He has made many albums and participated in many musical concerts organised by both government and private organisations.

In his song, Kelsang Yarphel exhorts “Tibetans to learn and speak Tibetan, unite three traditional provinces of Tibet and uphold patriotism.”

The DVDs made out of the songs performed at the concert were distributed distributed widely in Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. A month later, the Chinese authorities enforced a ban on the sale and distribution of the DVD many of which were confiscated, TCHRD said quoting sources from the region.

The Chinese authorities detained the singer around 14 July this year in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. He is currently lodged in a detention centre in Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province.

Below is a translation of the song by TCHRD:

“Fellow Tibetans”

We must learn Tibetan

Speak Tibetan

To learn them is our responsibility,

Fellow Tibetans

We must unite

We must unite

All the three traditional provinces of Tibet must unite,

Fellow Tibetans

We must build courage

Thinking about the years and months of joy and suffering

We must build courage,

Fellow Tibetans

We must allow joy and suffering to speak up

Thinking about Tibet’s future path

We must search for the path,

Fellow Tibetans

We must uphold our patriotism

Upholding patriotism Let’s march forward Together,

shoulder-to-shoulder.