China Detains Five Men for Singing a Song Devoted to the Dalai Lama

China Detains Five Men for Singing a Song Devoted to the Dalai Lama
Tibet. Source: Jack L/Flickr, 2018.



Fleur Harmsen


Tibet and Human Rights Researcher,


Global Human Rights Defense.


Chinese authorities have detained five Tibetan men on the 14th of October 2022 for performing a song about the Dalai Lama. They performed the song on the video sharing platform Kuaishou during a musical context. An excerpt from the censored song reads “Noble Lama was born in Tibet / Performed virtuous deeds in foreign lands / Loving and compassionate Lama / Pray for his swift return”. 

Immediately after the online contest was shut down, a voice from the live streaming service asked “who are you guys?” It is suspected that the voice belonged to one of the human censors hired from the platform. Kuaishou is allegedly planning on hiring 3000 censors to ensure users do not violate Chinese government regulations.

The singer, Derab, was detained while the other four detained men remain unidentified. The unidentified four were released after extensive questioning, while Derab remains in detention. 

Derab has been banned from taking part in any other contests and was coerced into signing a pledge that he would refrain from performing in any other festival or gathering. 

These practices by the Chinese authorities are seen to violate international human rights law.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that all individuals have the right to life, liberty and security of person. This right ensures that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary detention and arrest. In this regard, the detention of the five men for performing a song on a social media platform violates article 3 of the UDHR.

In addition, article 18 of the UDHR stipulates that all individuals have the right to freedom of religion and conscience. The right is safeguarded by international human rights law in both public and private spaces. In this regard, article 18 guarantees that all individuals have the right to engage with and express their opinion, thought and belief in both public and private spaces. 

Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) adds on to that right, stating that people are free in the ways in which they pursue their social and cultural development. The expression and means to such development are left to the choice of the individual in question, and the pursuit shall be enjoyed without government interference. In this regard, singing a song devoted to the Dalai Lama allows for the five men to freely express their devotion to their faith, allowing their social and cultural development through expressing their faith.

In their regard, China is seen to violate articles 3 and 18 of the UDHR and article 1 of the ICESCR in its arbitrary detention of the five musicians.

Sources and further reading:

Lhamo, K. (2022, October 16). China detains five Tibetans for performing song about Dalai Lama. Phayul Newsdesk. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from 

TCHRD. (2022 October 14). Singer and musician among five detained for Dalai Lama song on Chinese social media. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from

Tibetan Review. (2022, October 15). China detains five Tibetans for Dalai Lama song in live-streamed contest. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from