A court in northwest China’s Qinghai province has sentenced eight Tibetan students to prison terms of up to four years for their role in protests defending their right to use the Tibetan language, according to sources in the region and in exile.
The students were sentenced on April 10 by the Chabcha (in Chinese, Gonghe) County People’s Court in the Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said on Wednesday.
The eight had been students at the Tsolho Vocational School in Chabcha county and were charged with “causing harm to social stability,” TCHRD said, citing an official report released on the “China’s Tibet” website.
Protester Sangye Bum received a four-year term, while Kunsang Bum, Jampa Tsering, and a protester identified only as Lhaten were handed terms of three years and six months each.
Wangyal Tsering and Choekyong Kyab were sentenced to three years and three months, and two others whose names were not reported received prison terms of three years and six months, TCHRD said.
Over a hundred students, teachers, and representatives from schools in the prefecture attended the court hearing, TCHRD said.
Protest over book
More than a thousand Tibetan students from various schools had protested on Nov. 26, 2012 over the release of an official Chinese booklet that ridiculed the Tibetan language as “irrelevant,” local sources had told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
The book also attacked exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and condemned self-immolation protests challenging Beijing’s rule as acts of “stupidity,” sources said.
Students burned copies of the book during the protest and called for “equality among nationalities and freedom to study the Tibetan language,” one source said, citing local contacts.
Chinese security forces suppressed the protest by firing warning shots into the air and tear gas into the crowd and by beating protesters, sending at least 20 to hospital with five reported in critical condition.
A number of students were then detained, with the whereabouts and condition of some still unknown, TCHRD said.