KATHMANDU—Authorities in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan have handed down further prison terms to Tibetans detained in anti-China protests earlier this year, according to sources in the region.
The sentences follow a wave of jailings last month in which a court employee said that detained Tibetan protestors were being sent to prison “one after another,” and promised “More will be sentenced.”
Many of those recently sentenced are said to have taken part in a March 18 protest in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture that a source there described as “major” but “peaceful.”
“Recently, two monks, Orgyen Tashi and Tenzin Ngodrub, were sentenced by the Kardze People’s Intermediate Court to three years’ imprisonment,” the source said. The fate of a third monk, Lobsang, who had at first been detained with the others, remains a “mystery,” he said.
“His family members have no information about his health or place of detention, and they are extremely worried,” he said.
Three-year terms were also handed to four other Tibetans involved in the March 18 protest, said another source. The four—Pema Deshey, Tashi Palden, Goga, and Sangpo—were “severely beaten during three months of detention in Kardze,” the source said.
“Later, they were moved to Nyagrong [in Chinese, Xinlong] county prison and detained for a little over six months. Even during this detention, they were subjected to torture and severe beatings.”
Relatives believe that all four may have been taken to a facility in Kardze Prefecture’s Dartsedo [in Chinese, Kangding] county after sentencing, the source said, though “they could have been moved to a larger prison in China,” the source said.
Truckload under guard
A truckload of Tibetan prisoners was seen being taken to China under heavy guard, the source said, and the personal belongings of some of the prisoners were being returned to family members.
More than 200 Tibetans were detained following protests throughout Kardze earlier this year, according to another source in the region.
“About 20 were released, while the rest are still being held. About 70 percent of those are said to have been sentenced to prison terms of different lengths.”
“Recently, the Kardze People’s Intermediate Court secretly sentenced Sherab, a monk of the Khangmar monastery, to three years in prison,” a third source said.
“Tsering Phuntsog, also a monk from Khangmar, was given 2-1/2 years, and a lay youth named Palden Wangyal, 19, was given a three-year term.”
“All these sentences were given secretly for fear of Tibetan reaction,” the source said.
Reached for comment, a court official in Dartsedo confirmed the ongoing sentencing of Tibetan protesters, adding that only “serious cases” were being brought to the Dartsedo court, while “other cases are tried in their respective counties of the Kardze Prefecture.”
Kardze and other Tibetan regions of Sichuan saw a crackdown on Tibetans by Chinese security forces in the wake of protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, which turned to violent riots on March 14.
Tibet's government in exile said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the subsequent region-wide Chinese crackdown. China has meanwhile reported police as having killed just one "insurgent" and blames Tibetan "rioters" for the deaths of 21 people.
Original reporting by Norbu Damdul and Lobsang Choephel for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written in English by Richard Finney. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.