A court in northwest China’s Qinghai province has handed jail terms of up to six years to four Tibetans for sharing photographs and other information related to self-immolation protests with contacts outside the region, a Tibetan advocacy group said on Monday.
The four were convicted on charges of “inciting separatism” and sentenced on an unspecified date by the Intermediate People’s Court in Qinghai’s Malho (in Chinese, Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, according to the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), quoting media sources.
TCHRD identified them as Choepa Gyal, Chagthar, Namkha Jam, and Gonpo, citing an April 12 report by the official Qinghai Daily News.
Choepa Gyal was handed a six-year term followed by three years of deprivation of political rights for sending images and information related to Tibetan “separatism” through the Internet and for participating in “separatist”-related discussions online, TCHRD said in a statement.
Namkha Jam also received six years followed by two years’ deprivation of rights for sending photographs of self-immolators to Tibetan “separatist” organizations outside and inside Tibet, TCHRD said.
Chagthar received a four-year term followed by two year’s deprivation of rights for producing and distributing images of self-immolators, and Gonpo was handed a three-year term followed by one year of deprivation of rights for distributing photographs and other “separatist” material.
A total of 115 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to date in protests challenging Chinese rule or policies in Tibetan-populated areas and calling for the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Chinese authorities have tightened controls in Tibet and in Tibetan prefectures in Chinese provinces to check the fiery protests, cutting communication links with outside areas and jailing Tibetans they believe were linked to the burnings.
More than a dozen have been jailed so far, with some handed jail terms of up to 15 years.
TCHRD also reported that Chinese authorities have released two Tibetan prisoners in poor health at the end of five-year terms served in the notorious Chushul prison near Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa.
The two monks, jailed for five years for taking part in a March 2008 protest in Lhasa calling for Tibetan independence, were freed last month, TCHRD said in a separate statement.
Lobsang Ngodrub, 34, and Soepa, 35, were released after serving their full terms, TCHRD said, citing reports given by Tibetan sources in the region to the online Tibet Express.