A Tibetan writer sentenced to three years in prison for writing material deemed politically sensitive by China’s government has been freed after serving his full term behind bars, Tibetan sources say.
Shokjang, also called Druklo, was released on March 19 and had to be checked through several police stations before being allowed to proceed to his home in Gengya village in Gansu province’s Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county, a Tibetan source living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“His uncle went to meet him and bring him some clothes,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing sources in the region.
“He returned home after dark, and Tibetans from many different areas came to welcome him back following his release,” the source said.
Also speaking to RFA, Golog Jigme, a former Tibetan political prisoner now living in Switzerland, confirmed Shokjang’s release, also citing sources in Sangchu.
“He is still being closely watched by the Chinese, though, and we don’t know many details about his current condition,” Jigme said.
“He is said to be well, but given the hard labor prisoners must perform in custody, it is difficult to know for sure now what his health is like,” he said.
Led student protests
Shokjang, while a student of Tibetan literature at the Northwest University for Nationalities in Lanzhou, had organized student protests calling for greater Tibetan freedom under Chinese rule during widespread protests across Tibetan regions in March 2008.
He was later secretly detained on March 19, 2015, after writing about the increased presence of armed Chinese security forces in Qinghai’s Rebgong (Tongren) county and about crackdowns on Tibetans, a source in the region told RFA in an earlier report.
Handed a three-year prison term by the People’s Intermediate Court in Rebgong on Feb. 17, 2016, Shokjang protested his sentence to the court, arguing in a 17-page appeal that his writings were protected by China’s constitution, which guarantees the freedom of expression, allowing one to express one’s views in writing.
The year Shokjang spent in detention before his trial was credited to his three-year term, making him eligible for release this year.
Shokjang was among 23 journalists and 83 bloggers that the ruling Chinese Communist Party put behind bars in 2015, according to a year-end report by the Paris-based press freedoms watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
Reported by Dorjee Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.