Authorities in northwestern China’s Gansu province have released a Tibetan man jailed for ten and half years for his role in mass protests that swept Tibetan areas of China in 2008, according to a Tibetan source.
Gonpo Tseko, 39, was freed on Aug. 10, about three and a half years before his 14-year sentence was due to end, and returned to his home in the Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Machu county, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
Tseko’s sudden release “left many Tibetans in the dark until he had returned to his native place,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Chinese authorities warned his family not to organize any gathering to celebrate and welcome his release, and the condition of his health is still unknown,” the source said.
Authorities routinely impose communication blocks in Tibetan areas, and news of the arrest of Tibetan protesters and of their later release from custody is frequently delayed in reaching outside contacts.
“Gonpo Tseko was arrested sometime in October 2008 in connection with Tibetan protests in Machu, of which he was accused of being the ringleader,” RFA’s source said.
Handed a 14-year sentence for his role in the protests, Tseko was held at a prison in Gansu’s provincial capital Lanzhou until his release ahead of schedule last month, he said.
In March 2008, a riot in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa followed the suppression by Chinese police of four days of peaceful Tibetan protests and led to the destruction of Han Chinese shops in the city and deadly attacks on Han Chinese residents.
The riot then sparked a wave of mostly peaceful protests against Chinese rule that spread across Tibet and into Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces.
Hundreds of Tibetans were detained, beaten, or shot as Chinese security forces quelled the protests, sources said in earlier reports.
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.