Tibetan Protester is Freed After Serving Three Years at Hard Labor

Gepasumdo-305 Protesters gather in front of the Gepasumdo county government office, March 16, 2012.
Photo courtesy of Gan Nyur

A Tibetan prisoner held in northwest China’s Qinghai province was freed by authorities this week after serving a three-year term at hard labor for taking part in protests challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, sources said.

Tseten Gyal, aged about 28, was released on March 29 and secretly escorted by police to his home in Gepasumdo (in Chinese, Tongde) county in the Tsolho (Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a local sourced told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

Gyal had been one of a group of Tibetan residents detained in March 2012 when the monks of Ba Shingtri, a local monastery, had paraded in the county’s main town “to protest Chinese policies and rule,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“When those monks were detained, other Tibetansincluding Tseten Gyalexpressed their support and rallied for their release,” he said.

Accused of having distributed leaflets in solidarity with the protesters and of inciting others to “rise against China,” Gyal was detained on March 29 and later sentenced to three years in prison, the source said.

Gyal served his term in a prison in the provincial capital Xining, he said.

Term served at hard labor

Gyal was forced to perform hard labor while in custody, local sources told RFA’s Mandarin Service, adding that Gyal’s family and friends have been “strictly forbidden from contacting the outside world” to discuss his release.

Relatives and friends had planned to go to Gyal’s home to welcome him following his return, another source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“However, local community members have been ordered by the authorities not to present [offering] scarves, organize receptions, or throw leaflets to welcome him home,” he said.

Separately, a Tibetan living exile confirmed Gyal’s release, citing contacts in Gepasumdo.

“But due to restrictions on the Internet in the area, it is not easy to communicate with my contacts there,” he said.

“They are trying to send his photo, but it is difficult to do this under the watchful eye of the authorities.”

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 137 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service and by Dan Zhen for the Mandarin Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee and Jennifer Chou. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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