Two Tibetan activists — an environmentalist who organized villagers to plant trees and report poaching, and a Tibetan monk who joined mass protests against Chinese rule — have been released from jail after serving sentences deemed as punishment for their activism, according to sources
Rinchen Samdup, who ran an environmental group in the mountainous Gonjo (in Chinese, Gongjue) county in the Tibetan Autonomous Region's Chamdo (Changduo) prefecture, was freed from a jail in the regional capital Lhasa on Friday after serving five years on charges of "inciting to split the nation," the sources said citing local contacts.
Samdup was detained in August 2009 after he accused local officials in Gonjo county of hunting endangered animals, angering powerful local groups with vested interests, sources in the area said at the time of his conviction.
The group run by Samdup and his two brothers, who had also been jailed, mobilized local villagers to reforest the area and report poaching, and operated a small magazine on environmental and other issues affecting the community.
The youngest brother, Chime Namgyal, was detained alongside Samdrup and jailed on the same separatism charges and was released earlier after serving two years in jail.
The other brother, Karma Samdrup, a wealthy antique collector, is still in jail, serving a 15-year sentence imposed by a court in the neighboring Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in June 2010 for excavating and "robbing" ancient tombs. Some his supporters believe he was punished for defending his two brothers.