According to sources, Tibetan musician Kelsang Yarphel was released from prison on 10 July 2017. Freemuse welcomes Yarphel’s release but remains concerned that it only comes after he served out his four-year prison sentence on charges of inciting separatism.
“Everyone is entitled to the freedom of artistic expression, including the right to use that freedom for expressing one’s culture. We continue to ask Chinese authorities to respect and defend this human right for all people within its borders and to release all Tibetan artists who remain imprisoned for their artistic and cultural expressions,” Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said.
Yarphel was first detained in July 2013 after his song ‘Bhodpa Tso’ (‘Fellow Tibetans’) was banned but continued to gain popularity in Tibet through online videos. The song calls on Tibetan people to join together in solidarity and be a unified nation of people.
The musician reportedly spent 18 months in detention without charge, which undermines the basic principles on the rule of law and human rights, and was sentenced to four years in Sichuan’s Mianyang Prison on 27 November 2014 for inciting separatism, as well as being fined $32,000 USD.
According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Yarphel’s health conditions remain unknown due to strict restrictions Chinese authorities place on released Tibetans, who are also closely monitored once freed, making it difficult to communicate, live a normal life or seek medical attention.
Upon release, Yarphel returned to his native village to his wife and three children.
Musicians Lo Lo, Shawo Tashi, Trinley Tsekar and Gonpo Tenzin, among other artists, remain imprisoned in China for their art.
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