Chinese authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) have sentenced a young Tibetan to jail for his role in a protest last year against rule by Beijing, a source in exile said.
Sonam Namgyal, 23 and a native of Gola village in the town of Drongsar, was handed a three-year term by the Pashoe County People’s Court in the TAR’s Chamdo prefecture on Oct. 13, a Tibetan monk in India said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing sources in Tibet.
“He was arrested because in 2010, someone pulled a Chinese flag down on the campus of the Drongsar town school and put it under a rock,” the source said.
“The Chinese authorities investigated, but failed to identify the person responsible.”
Sonam Namgyal was a student in Drongsar at the time, the source said.
On June 17, he was picked up by two Chinese police officers in plain clothes while collecting cordycep fungi, the source said.
“The officers took him to Nyingtri county, where he was held for three days. Later he was handed over to Pashoe county police.”
“In Pashoe county he was held for about four months and was severely beaten and tortured by police,” the source said.
On Oct. 13, Sonam Namgyal was sentenced to a three-year jail term for “acting against the unity of the country,” the source said.
“His prison mates have told locals that Sonam’s health is very poor and that his hearing has been damaged due to torture in prison, which took a toll on his physical health.”
“After his arrest, his family was allowed to see him only once,” the source said, adding that Sonam’s mother is 72 and stays mostly at home and that his father passed away “long ago.”
“At present, his relatives don’t know where he is being held.”
Reached for comment, a Pashoe County court official confirmed Sonam Namgyal’s sentence, adding, “He is the youngest of several people [recently] sentenced, but was not a student at the time.”
Surge in protests
Tibetan protests against Chinese rule have surged in Chamdo prefecture in recent weeks.
At the end of October, an unidentified attacker bombed a government building in the county seat, leading to a Chinese crackdown on a nearby monastery suspected of involvement in the blast.
Monks and nuns then fled the monastery, with many quickly recaptured and detained by Chinese security forces.
And on Dec. 1, Tenzin Phuntsog, a former monk in Chamdo, set himself ablaze in protest after leaving behind a note urging Tibetans to "rise up."
It was the twelfth self-immolation protest in Tibetan areas controlled by China this year.
Reported by RFA’s Kham Tibetan service. Translations by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.