Sichuan Court Jails Tibetans

Court officials and Tibetans say many Tibetans are now being handed jail terms as part of an ongoing crackdown.
2008-11-20
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KANGDING, China: Tibetan monks chant prayers at their monastery in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's southwestern Sichuan province, 23 March 2008.
KANGDING, China: Tibetan monks chant prayers at their monastery in the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's southwestern Sichuan province, 23 March 2008.
AFP

KATHMANDUAuthorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have jailed four Tibetan men for their part in an attempted uprising against Chinese rule earlier this year.

Sources in Dartsedo [in Chinese, Kangding] said Thubten Gyaltsen, 19, from Minyak, Tsewang Dragpa, 21, and Tenpa Choephel from Yulshul were handed jail terms of three, four, and five years respectively by the Dartsedo People's Court for their role in June protests.

A fourth man, a monk from the Golog Serthar Buddhist Center, in a town known as Seda in Chinese, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment after taking part in protests May 14, the sources said.

...we have to live unhappy lives...All we can do is burn incense and pray to our gods and lamas."

Tibetan in Lhasa

Local officials confirmed sentencing was taking place but declined to comment on individual cases.

"Many people are being sentenced, one after another," one Dartsedo court employee said. "It is very difficult to remember them all...More will be sentenced."

Families 'left uninformed'

"The family members of those Tibetans who were sentenced were neither informed [of the trial] nor offered a chance to find lawyers to defend the cases," a source in Draggo county [in Chinese, Luhuo] said.

Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and other Tibetan regions of Sichuan saw a crackdown on Tibetans by Chinese security forces in the wake of the Lhasa protests, which turned to violent riots on March 14.

Tibet's government in exile said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the subsequent region-wide Chinese crackdown. China has meanwhile reported police as having killed just one "insurgent" and blames Tibetan "rioters" for the deaths of 21 people.

"Restrictions on Tibetans are increasing in different parts of Tibet, and many Tibetans who try to call outside Tibet are being prosecuted," a source in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, said.

"A woman that I know was recently detained for calling outside Tibet. A young man named Tashi Oser, who is in his 20s, was detained for making a call to Lhasa. The phone lines from the Kardze area are completely blocked."

"Since it is difficult to communicate, we have information [on only some] of the Tibetans who have been detained, sentenced, or killed. Many cases are not known," she added.

The Chinese authorities have also continued a wave of detentions and sentencings within the Tibet Autonomous Region since the protests and ensuing violence.

Continuing restrictions

"The situation inside Tibet is very sad, and severe restrictions are in place," a source in Lhasa said.

"For example, students in some schools were told to write essays about the events of March 14. Those who wrote that these events involved [the rights of] ethnic nationalities were expelled and punished," the source said. "In Lhasa, the police are always looking for monks and nuns. If any are found, they are sent home, while those who are suspected of anything are taken away. In this way, we have to live unhappy lives."

The authorities had stepped up a "re-education" program for Tibetans with mass SMS broadcasts, residents said.

"Chinese officials are sending out text messages over the phone saying that they will never accept self-rule for Tibet, and that independence is out of the question," the Lhasa source said. "There is nothing that we can do. All we can do is burn incense and pray to our gods and lamas."

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has said he has lost hope in talks with China and called a conference of Tibetan exiles to discuss policy approaches in an attempt to unify an increasingly fragmented exile community.

Tibetan political and social groups are gathering Nov. 17-22 in Dharamsala, the northern Indian town where the Dalai Lama has based his government in exile since fleeing Tibet in 1959.

Original reporting in Kham by Lobsang. RFA Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han and Richard Finney.

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