Hero's welcome for released musician

Pema Rigzin after his release
Musician Pema Rigzin being welcomed after his release from prison
26th October 2015

Pema Rigzin featured in Free Tibet's Jailed Musicians campaign

Pema Rigzin, 46, returned to his home in Ngaba on October 23, after spending two-and-a-half years in jail for producing banned Tibetan songs.

He was greeted by family and friends, who presented him with ceremonial scarves and celebrated with a feast attended by several other Tibetan singers.

Clampdown on singers

The former monk was arrested in May 2013 and sentenced in November 2014, when he was also fined 50,000 yuan (US$8,130). His family was prevented from hiring a lawyer.

A number of patriotic, politically-sensitive songs and albums had been recorded in his studio by other artists, some of which were banned, including 'In Memory of Tibet' and 'Tears'. The authorities had repeatedly threatened to shut his Chengdu studio before detaining him.

The Chinese authorities have jailed a number of singers in recent years. Lolo was sentenced to six years while Trinley Tsekar from Driru County was given a nine-year sentence in 2013. Pema Rigzin was convicted on the same day that another singer, Kalsang Yarphel, was sentenced to four years in prison for organizing concerts and singing songs with "political" themes.

His release comes just weeks after that of Dolma Kyab, 39, a highly-regarded Tibetan writer and scholar. Kyab is said to be in ill health and he remains under Chinese police surveillance.

Last year, the United Nations responded to a letter by Free Tibet demanding information about a number of the singers.

Earlier this year, Free Tibet submitted a 12,000 signature petition to the Chinese government calling for the release of all the jailed singers.

Take action

Pema Rigzin was a monk before becoming a musician. Like him, many monks and religious figures in Tibet are at the forefront of defending Tibetan culture and articulating Tibetan national pride. As a result, many are now in jail. Please send a solidarity message to Bangri Tsamtrul Rinpoche, currently serving an eighteen-year sentence, and find out how you can help other Robed Resisters in Tibet.