A young writer and editor of the banned Tibetan Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) magazine has been sentenced to four years in prison, according to a source inside Tibet.
A Tibetan from the eastern Tibetan area of Amdo, who asked to remain anonymous, said Tashi Rabten was sentenced on June 2 by the Ngaba Intermediate People’s Court. Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) is a Tibetan-majority prefecture in China’s Sichuan province.
"All of a sudden, without prior warning, his parents received a letter from the authorities that Tashi Rabten had been accused of 'separatism,'" the source told RFA.
"After they received the letter, his parents tried to go visit him, but they were denied permission."
Rabten’s writings for the magazine and in his book, Written in Blood, focused on issues such as democracy and the wave of unrest that rocked Tibetan areas in March 2008.
According to the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, three other Shar Dungri editors were also sentenced on charges of “inciting separatism” last year.
The three—Jangtse Donkho, Buddha, and Kalsang Jinpa—were handed jail terms of three to four years in December 2010 for articles they wrote in the journal about suppression of the March 2008 protests.
A year in custody
Rabten’s sentencing follows more than one year in custody. He was detained in April last year when police raided student rooms at the Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou, Gansu province, where he was enrolled.
He was also held for several weeks in July 2009, when he went missing after a visit to his hometown in Dzoege (in Chinese, Ruo’ergai) county in Ngaba prefecture.
His book, Written in Blood, a collection of political essays on democracy and equality, was banned in 2009 after he managed to publish about 1,000 copies.
China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights in the three years since widespread protests swept the region.
In recent months, tensions have run high in Ngaba prefecture, where Tibetan residents have resisted a crackdown on monks at Kirti Monastery.
Reported by Lhubum Tashi for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Tamdin Wangchuk. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.