Karma Tsewang (堪布尕玛才旺)

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Karma Tsewang (堪布尕玛才旺)

Karma TsewangŸ 堪布尕玛才旺


*Previously on medical watch

Karma Tsewang

Crime: Harboring fugitives and leaking state secrets

Length of Punishment: 2 years and 6 months

Court: Unknown

Trial Date: Unknown

Sentencing Date: Unknown

Dates of Detention/Arrest: December 7, 2013 (detained); July 2016 (released)


Date of Birth: unknown (age 38 at time of detention)

Medical Condition(s): Hepatitis, Bacterial tracheitis, tuberculosis

Place of Incarceration: Chamdo Public Security Bureau Detention Center, Tibetan Autonomous Region


Karma Tsewang, 38, also known as Khenpo Kartse, is a senior monk from the Gongya Monastery in Nangchen (CH: Nangqian) County in the Yulshul (Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. He is very well known among younger Tibetan Buddhists, particularly for his support for environmental protection and his work to promote Tibetan culture and language. He was seized by police officers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province and was taken to Chamdo (Changdu) County in the Tibet Autonomous Region and tried in secret. He was released in July 2016, at the end of his sentence

During Karma Tsewang’s detention, his lawyer and family were blocked from seeing him. He suffers from hepatitis, bacterial tracheitis, tuberculosis and other diseases that require medical care and attention but has been denied treatment and necessary medication. After entering detention, he began suffering from severe back pain and began ejecting bloody sputum. In addition to deprivation of access to legal counsel, family visitation, and medical care, he reportedly was subjected to inhumane punishment. Karma Tsewang reportedly was held in a cell that does not receive sunlight, ate only one meal a day (brought by his family), and was not allowed to bathe. In late February 2014, almost three months after he was seized, Karma Tsewang was allowed to meet his lawyer for only the second time. According to his lawyer, he was suspected of harboring fugitive monks from another monastery. His lawyer applied for release on bail after his second visit due to Karma Tsewang’s numerous medical conditions, but authorities turned down the request because the case touches on “state stability.” On May 26, detention officials again refused Karma Tsewang a visit with his lawyer because he is accused of “harboring fugitives” and “leaking state secrets.” The second charge is reportedly related to the self-immolation of a monk in Chamdo on December 1, 2011. Karma Tsewang’s detention inspired several demonstrations involving hundreds to thousands of supporters who have demanded the Chinese government release him.

*CHRD’s Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention

Further Information

Respected Tibetan monk Khenpo Kartse released from prison at end of sentence, July 18, 2016, International Campaign for Tibet

“Today, Karma Tsewang Has Been Detained For Half a Year, So-Called Criminal Charges Escalated and May Face Heavy Sentence” (今天,堪布尕玛才旺被捕半年整,所谓“罪名”升级,面临被判重刑), June 7, 2014, Invisible Tibet

“TCHRD calls on China to respect lawful rights of detained senior monk,” March 12, 2014, TCHRD

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