Tibetan Prisoner Released After Finishing Seven-Year Term

2016-03-22
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Joleb Jigme is shown surrounded by friends following his release from prison, March 21, 2016.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have released a Tibetan man from prison after he served a seven-year sentence for activities opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, sources in the region said.

Joleb Jigme, aged around 40, returned on March 21 to his home in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county, where he was greeted warmly by friends and supporters, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service, communicating via social media.

Among those welcoming Jigme on his return was the Tibetan writer Theurang, who had been detained six years before for leading a student protest and contacting writers and exile organizations outside the region, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Jigme was handed a seven-year prison term in 2009 by the People’s Intermediate Court in Ngaba following his conviction on a charge of revealing state secrets, an accusation frequently leveled against Tibetans seeking to spread news of political protests to areas outside Chinese control.

He was formerly a monk in Ngaba’s Kirti monastery, a scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.

In 1992, Jigme was jailed for a year by Chinese authorities on an earlier charge of having committed political offenses.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 144 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze in fiery self-immolations.

Most of the burnings have featured demands for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, while a handful have been over local land or property disputes.

Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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