A Tibetan businessman jailed for his role in a 2009 protest challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas has been released after serving his sentence and has returned to his home in western China’s Sichuan province, sources said.
Paltop, age unknown, “was released on June 21 and arrived safely in his hometown in Palyul [in Chinese, Baiyu] county” in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“He was given a warm welcome by the local people, who presented him with ceremonial scarves and danced with joy at his release,” Drime Gyaltsen, head of the India-based Dege Association, said, citing local contacts.
Paltop had served his full term of six years in prison, Gyaltsen said.
Paltop was detained in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa in 2009 after he and several friends had conducted a juniper-burning ceremony and made other offerings to a portrait of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Gyaltsen said.
“He had also applied a coating to add radiance to the face of the Jowo Buddha statue in the Jokhang [Lhasa’s central cathedral] to commemorate the 2007 award to the Dalai Lama of the U.S. Congressional Medal."
“Paltop is a person who is strongly devoted to the cause of the Tibetan people,” Gyaltsen said, adding that to support the Dalai Lama’s wishes, Paltop has often counseled others against the use of the skins of tigers, otters, and other wild animals for decoration.
The Dalai Lama first appealed in January 2006 to Tibetans living in China to protect endangered animals in Tibet and to stop using animal skins on their clothes, and many Tibetans heard his instructions via Tibetan radio broadcasts from overseas.
Chinese police frequently investigate and arrest Tibetans deemed to have responded to the wishes and policy directives of the India-based Dalai Lama, whom Beijing considers a dangerous separatist bent on “splitting” Tibet from Chinese control.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 141 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.