CHINA GAGS RELATIVES OF TIBETANS IN BOMBING CASE


2003-02-03
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (RFA)--Relatives of two Tibetans handed death sentences for a series of bombings in western China say that the Chinese government has banned them from discussing the case publicly. They also say they only learned that one of the men had been executed from a public flyer issued five days after his death.

Relatives of Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche told Radio Free Asia�s Tibetan service that Chinese authorities had also barred them from traveling. �The local authorities warned us not to call outside, and they said we would be punished if we did,� said one. �No one is allowed to talk about anything that has happened here.�

The relatives, who asked not to be named, said Chinese authorities had taken the highly unusual step of keeping Lobsang Dhondup�s body after his execution. Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche has meanwhile been moved to a secret location, after a provincial court upheld his sentence on Jan. 26.

�We are completely helpless, in a state of great fear of arrest and torture,� one relative said, appealing to the United Nations and foreign governments to intervene.

Lobsang Dhondup, 28, was executed Jan. 26 in Sichuan Province for his alleged role in several bombings in support of Tibetan independence. A provincial court also rejected an appeal by Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk tried alongside Lobsang Dhondup, to overturn a suspended death sentence. Such sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment in China.

Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, 53, were convicted in connection with several bomb attacks in 2001 and 2002, in the Kandze (Ganzi) area of Sichuan, killing one person. Their sentences prompted an international outcry, and human rights organizations have condemned Dhondup�s execution.

Sichuan Province borders the Tibetan Autonomous Region and includes parts of traditionally Tibetan territory. Kandze forms part of the Kham Tibetan region, which falls under the administration of Sichuan Province.

The men�s relatives were initially told they would be re-tried Jan. 10 on the same charges and in front of the same court that convicted them in December. �But nothing took place on that day,� one of the relatives said. �We called the local authorities many times, and finally they said the Chinese government would decide the case and the relatives had no business with it. The Chinese government would announce its decision, and then the relatives could come.�

�We heard rumors that Lobsang Dhondup had been killed Jan. 26, but only on Jan. 31 the local Chinese authorities issued a flyer meant for all of Kandze�s 18 districts. It said that he had been found guilty of the bombings--that these had caused great economic damage to the Chinese government and many people had lost their lives. Therefore he was killed.� The same flyer, the relatives said, named Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche as the instigator of the blasts and said he possessed letters urging independence for Tibet.

In a tape-recorded message smuggled out to RFA and broadcast Jan. 21, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche rejected the charges against him. �Whatever [the authorities] do and say, I am completely innocent,� he said. �I have always urged people to be kind-hearted and caring toward others. Everybody knows what I say and practice.�

�I was wrongly accused because I have always been sincere and devoted to the interests and well-being of Tibetans. The Chinese did not like what I did and what I said. That is the only reason why I was arrested,� he said, vowing to continue his efforts on behalf of Tibetans living under Chinese rule.

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content. #####

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