A Chinese court in Qinghai province has handed a five-year prison term to a popular Tibetan writer after holding him in secret following his detention in January, according to Tibetan sources.
“On May 14, Gartse Jigme was secretly sentenced to five years in jail by the Tsekhog [in Chinese, Zeku] county court,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.
“The distribution of his book Courage of the King was cited as a reason for his detention,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Separately, the India-based Tibetan government in exile or Central Tibetan Administration confirmed the sentence, citing unnamed “media sources.”
Jigme, 36, had been taken by police from his room at the Rebgong Gartse monastery in the Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) prefecture on Jan. 1, sources told RFA in April.
“A team of security officials suddenly raided his room, searched his personal computer and other things, and escorted him away,” sources said.
Family members were not informed of his whereabouts or condition in custody, and no further word of him was heard until news of his sentence was received.
'Sufferings of Tibet'
“Gartse Jigme began writing in 1999, and his writings have won awards and wide recognition from his readers,” one source said, adding, “The first edition of Courage of the King, published in 2008, described very clearly the past and present sufferings of Tibet.”
In the book’s second edition, a copy of which was obtained by RFA, Jigme wrote extensively on topics considered politically sensitive by China.
Topics covered in the book included self-immolation protests by Tibetans, Tibet’s exile government, the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s environment, and China’s policies in the region.
In a preface, Jigme dedicated his book to “the resolution of the Tibet issue, while remembering the many heroes and heroines who have sacrificed everything for Tibet.”
China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
Meanwhile, a total of 118 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to challenge Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas and to call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.