Tibetan Student Leader Jailed, Nuns Released

2013-06-12
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An undated photo of Dorje Wangchuk.
An undated photo of Dorje Wangchuk.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A court in northwestern China’s Qinghai province has jailed a young Tibetan for helping lead a student protest last year, while authorities in neighboring Sichuan released two nuns and another woman after they completed prison terms for their roles in protests challenging rule by Beijing, sources said.

Dorje Wangchuk, a student at the Middle School of Nationalities in Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was handed a four-year term for being one of the “main organizers” of the student protest, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.

“He was detained after several thousand students launched a peaceful rally,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Details concerning Wangchuk's age, the identity of the sentencing court, and the date of his sentencing were not immediately available.

Several thousand students took to the streets in Malho’s restive Rebgong (Tongren) county on Nov. 9, 2012, to demand greater rights, including the right to use Tibetan as their language of instruction in the schools.

The students shouted slogans calling for the “equality of nationalities and freedom of languages” and demanding the return of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Protesters described area streets filled with Chinese security forces, plainclothes police, and military vehicles, but said that no move was made to crack down on the protests.

“A few students were beaten up, though, and some were taken to the hospital with injuries,” one source said at the time.

Taken into custody following the students’ protest, Dorje Wangchuk was held “for some time, during which he was subjected to harsh interrogations,” RFA’s source said on Wednesday.

“Now, a local court has sentenced him to four years in jail for participating in the rally as one of the main organizers,” he said.

'Severely beaten'

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities this week released two nuns and another woman who were jailed for two years for their role in anti-China protests in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) county, a local source told RFA.

Ringa and Joga of the Lamdrak nunnery had staged a public protest on June 10, 2011, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They shouted slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and demanding independence for Tibet,” he said.

In a report three days after their protest, the online Tibet Post International (TPI) identified the nuns as Ringa, 20, and Jampa Lhatsok, 25, both from Varu village in Kardze county.

The protesters were “severely beaten” by police as they were being detained, TPI said in its June 13, 2011 report.

Also released with the nuns on Monday was Tsewang Dolma, who had staged a separate protest on June 8, 2011, RFA’s source said, adding that all three had been held in a prison in Sichuan.

“The two nuns were escorted home [by police] to avoid a public welcome. However, area residents came to their home to show their solidarity and appreciation for the sacrifices they had made.”

On Tuesday, a Tibetan nun set herself ablaze during a large religious gathering in Sichuan in protest against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, sources said.

The woman, who has not been identified, self-immolated near Nyatso monastery in Tawu (Daofu) county and close to a Chinese police facility, a Tibetan living in Nepal told RFA’s Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The burning brings to 120 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans challenging Chinese rule since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009.

Reported by Lumbum Tashi and Norbu Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tseten Namgyal and Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

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CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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