A court in China’s Sichuan province has ordered two Tibetans jailed after they joined protests against officials accused of corruption tied to public housing, according to exile sources.
The two men were among a group of 15-20 Tibetan villagers taken into custody on April 14 after they refused government orders to praise local officials suspected by local Tibetans of embezzling public funds in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county’s Andu township.
When the villagers voiced their disapproval, about 10 truckloads of armed police who had accompanied the officials attacked the crowd, injuring about 100, sources said.
“Most of those detained in Andu in April have now been released,” said India-based Tibetan monks Losang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering, citing contacts in the region.
“However, Phulten, 40, of the Phulten Tsang household in Gyalde village was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Ngaba county People’s Court on June 2,” Yeshe and Tsering said.
“On the same day, Gyurkho of the Tsamtsang household in Gyalde village was sentenced to two years.”
The nature of the charges made against the two men is not known, though they were accused of “refusing new houses built with government aid, and not taking the keys when presented to them,” Yeshe and Tsering said.
Phulten is “entitled to lodge an appeal within a certain period of time,” they added.
A third Tibetan, Pema of the Sengge Tsang household in Pekhe village, Andu township, has not been tried and remains in detention in the county town, they said.
“Prisoners are not being held in Ngaba these days, but are taken to distant places to serve their sentence.”
The two officials singled out for praise by the Ngaba county were suspected by Andu villagers of having taken funds assigned for the building of state-subsidized housing, Yeshe and Tsering said.
And though homes were given to people as a form of “state assistance,” the families occupying them were told at the end of last year that they would have to pay 10,000 yuan (U.S. $1,594) of the 80,000 yuan that each house had cost to build.
“The people responded that they had been given the housing as aid, that no demand for money had been made, and that they were not able to meet one now.”
The two government workers later praised by county officials were suspected of having embezzled funds for the housing, causing a shortfall that resulted in the demand for money from tenants, Yeshe and Tsering said.
“The two have been held in low regard ever since.”
Meanwhile, Losang Phuntsog, 29, a monk from Ngaba’s restive Kirti monastery, was recently sentenced by a prefectural court in Ngaba’s Barkham county to eight years in prison and four years’ deprivation of political rights, Yeshe and Tsering said.
“He has not been seen, or his whereabouts revealed, since he was arrested on Oct. 17, 2011, and the crime for which he was sentenced is not known.”
Ngaba has been the scene of many of the 39 Tibetan self-immolation protests that have taken place so far against rule by Beijing. These have resulted in a major security crackdown in Sichuan and in other Tibetan-populated Chinese provinces nearby.
Reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service. Written in English by Richard Finney.