China Silences Tibet Folk Singer Drolmakyi

Barbara Demick reports in the LA Times, from Dawu:

These are dangerous times to be a Tibetan folk singer.

Drolmakyi learned that when she opened the only place to listen to live music in this dusty little town perched high on the Tibetan plateau.

The 31-year-old single mother, a singer, a member of the local government council and a well-known figure around town, had grown up tending yak in the mountains and hadn’t forgotten her nomadic roots. At the nightclub, she and her friends would put on swirling robes and coral beads as fat as grapes and belt out ballads aching with nostalgia for the old Tibetan ways.

“She sang from the heart,” said her mother, Caito, who insists that Drolmakyi’s music wasn’t political. “My daughter always said we must keep Tibetan culture and language. That’s all.”

On March 30, Chinese authorities arrested Drolmakyi as she was hanging laundry from the balcony of her apartment. She didn’t even get to say goodbye to her three children, ages 9 to 13, who were playing outside. They came back and found their mother gone.

At least six other Tibetan cultural figures were arrested in recent months under similar circumstances with no warning or formal charges. Friends and family say they eventually secured their releases by paying large fees and promising to keep quiet.

June 8, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Categories: Politics