Kunga Tseyang

Age: 22
Summary: A Tibetan monk and leading writer, intellectual, photographer and environmentalist activist. Detained in March 2009, his arrest is thought to be linked to his writings, which include the essay ‘Who Are the Real Splittists’
Charge: Linked to his writings
Sentence: Five Years. RELEASED 12 January 2014
Prison: Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province


Kunga Tsayang (Pen-name: Gangnyi meaning Son of Snowland), a Tibeatan monk, popular writer, blogger, photographer and environmental activist, was taken from Labrang monastery in Gansu province by police in March 2009. After a closed trial in early November 2009 he was sentenced to five years in prison. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Kunga Tsayang was born in Chikdril (Chinese: Jiuzhi) county in Golog (Chinese: Guoluo) and educated at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics at Labrang monastery and in Beijing. He is thought to have been detained as a result of his essays on a website named “Jottings” or “Rough Notes” (Tibetan:Zin-dris).

Kunga wrote essays including: “Who are the true splittists?”, in which he wrote:
“China Television, Lhasa TV and others, while ignoring the truth, have excessively branded all Tibetans as separatists. This has caused an incurable communal injury between the Chinese brothers and sisters, and Tibetans leading to Chinese disliking the Tibetans and Tibetans holding animosity towards the Chinese. I, as a person, am forced to accept the fact that this was the biggest factor causing a split among the nationalities. […] Tibetans are driven to a desperate position because of them being accused of doing things, which they never did, and small incidents were exaggerated and paraded before the world. Even Tibetans who worked for the Party for over two to three decades were accused and the Chinese news media, the experts that they are in fabricating lies, went to schools and universities where there are only a handful of Tibetan students to accuse them and to witch-hunt them. Such excessive misinformation and wrongful acts have caused a huge chasm and disturbance in the minds of Tibetan officials and students who have absolute love for Chinese brothers and sisters and liking for the Communist Party of China. This has left a feeling of ‘racial hatred’ in their minds. This is the negative consequence of their incompetent reporting.”

Kunga Tsayang concludes in the essay, which is translated from the Tibetan by Bhuchung D. Sonam (see below): “Our freedom of movements are restricted by roadblocks, checkpoints and ever-present military personnel with guns pointed at us. I must strongly assert that confiscating the photographs of our beloved leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, by burning them, and stamping them under the soldiers’ boots are the real causes of splitting the people. Detention of Tibetans for possessing His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s photographs, disparaging them for putting His Holiness’ pictures on their altars are the real causes of split amongst the nationalities. Unless you [the Chinese government] are able to break our love and respect in our hearts, all your fruitless campaigns and activities will only strengthen our unity and love for one Tibetan brother to another.”

For more information visit:
November 2009: Who are the Real Splittists? by Kunga Tsayang
High Peaks Pure Earth
April 2009: Remembering Honourable Gangnyi-la
June 2011: http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2011/06/documenting-10-tibetan-writers-and.html
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
November 2009: Tibetan writer-photographer sentenced