Tibetan Writers Tried as 'Splittists'

Authorities crack down on freedom of expression and national identity.
2010-11-05
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A cover of the journal Eastern Snow Mountain.
Photo: RFA

Three Tibetan writers detained earlier this year by Chinese authorities have been tried on charges of “inciting activities to split the nation,” according to sources in the region.

“The three writers—Jangtse Donkho, Buddha, and Kalsang Jinpa—were tried on Oct. 28 by the Aba [in Tibetan, Ngaba] Intermediate People’s Court,” in China’s southwestern Sichuan province, said Kanyak Tsering, a Tibetan living in India and citing contacts in Tibet.

The men had been detained in June and July, and were charged primarily because of articles they wrote about the 2008 Tibetan protest movement in a local newsletter, Shar Dungri (“Eastern Snow Mountain”), according to a source familiar with their case.

“All three, along with their lawyers and some family members, were present in the court. The trial lasted about half a day,” a family member said.

Addressing the presiding judge, each of the men denied his guilt of the charges made against them.

Case under review

No verdict was announced following the closed trial, and family sources in Tibet said they were told the case would be “reviewed” by authorities before sentences were imposed. 

“When they came out of the court, the three writers were allowed to see family members for a few minutes under the watch of police,” a Tibetan source said.

“Buddha tried to hold his two-year-old son, but was unable to hold him because he was chained. So he kissed his child twice and asked his wife to make sure their son learned the Tibetan language. Then he was escorted away,” the source said.

Buddha had earlier spoken in court in fluent Chinese to deny having committed any crime, adding that articles of the kind that he and the other men were accused of writing were also published by Han Chinese.

“[But] since we are minorities, you punish us with detention, trial, and jail,” he said.

“If we are convicted of these charges, we will carry a heavy load on our hearts because of this injustice and because of the inequality among different nationalities, though we are citizens of the same country.”

Scores jailed

The other men “spoke well” in Tibetan in their own defense, but felt that a court translator provided an imprecise translation of their remarks, a family member said.

China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights in the two years since widespread protests swept the region, according to a report released earlier this year by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).

“Despite knowing very well the risks, [Tibetans] still dare to publish their own opinions, and to exchange opinions among themselves, about the situation in Tibet,” ICT senior researcher Ben Carrdus said in an interview.

Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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