Apparently undeterred by a police beating during her protest a little over one month ago, Gonpo Kyi (Chinese: Gongbao Ji), elder sister of imprisoned former Tibetan businessman Dorjee Tashi, returned to protest in front of the Tibet Autonomous Region Higher People’s Court on 23 April 2023.
In an apparent change of tactics this time, Chinese police surrounded Gonpo Kyi (also known as “Gontey”) with a large black police banner to hide her protest from public view.
Gonpo Kyi’s latest protest is her sixth known protest.
After her last protest on 20 March 2023, police detained Gonpo and beat her. Bruises could be seen on her arm afterward.
Gonpo, in a video statement in June 2022, pledged that she will continue her protest to seek justice for her unjustly imprisoned brother until he is freed.
Change in tactic
Video clips of the latest protest obtained by the International Campaign for Tibet show police officers hiding Gonpo Kyi from public view by surrounding her with a large black police banner.
In the second clip, Gonpo can be seen pulling the banner wall down with her left hand, while her right hand is holding a sheet of paper with, for the viewer, illegible messages, most likely in support of her brother. A man filming the video clip can be heard saying in Tibetan that Dorjee Tashi’s sister is protesting her brother’s unjust imprisonment and asking for a fair retrial.
Tactic replication in Tibet
At the height of the Chinese people’s protest against the Chinese Communist Party’s zero-COVID strategy and the A4 white paper protest movement, Chinese police conducted drills to deter potential protesters and also put into practice the tactic of surrounding a protesting crowd with large police banners to hide them from view and to contain the message.
The use of the banner wall tactic by police during Gonpo Kyi’s most recent protest is presumably a replication of these tactics for the first time in Tibet.
Previously, the International Campaign for Tibet documented the torture experienced by Dorjee Tashi, a well-known former Tibetan businessman and philanthropist during his pre-trial detention, and his family’s pursuit of justice for him.
Dorjee Tashi is currently being held in the Tibet Autonomous Region Prison No.1, also known as Drapchi Prison, where Tibetan prisoners are reportedly subjected to torture.
Both the European Union and the United States have expressed concerns about Dorjee Tashi’s arbitrary detention, with the EU calling for his immediate and unconditional release during the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council in September-October 2022. The detention of Dorjee Tashi was also acknowledged in the 2021 and 2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices by the United States.
The International Campaign for Tibet urges the global community to keep advocating for the release of Dorjee Tashi.