Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province have released a young Tibetan writer and editor jailed for four years for “inciting separatism” because of his writings on banned political themes, according to a source inside Tibet.
Tashi Rabten, 29 and also known as Teurang, was released on March 29, 2014, and was warmly greeted by family members and friends, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“Several fans of his work both inside and outside Tibet expressed joy at his release, but many also voiced concerns over his health,” RFA’s source said.
Editor of the banned Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain) magazine, Rabten was detained in April 2010 and was handed a four-year term on June 2, 2011, by the People’s Intermediate Court in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture.
Rabten’s writings for the magazine and in his book Written in Blood focused on issues such as democracy and the wave of protests challenging Beijing’s rule that rocked Tibetan areas of China in March 2008.
Sources said that the year Rabten spent detained before his trial and sentencing may have counted toward completion of his four-year term, which was served in Sichuan’s Mianyang prison.
Rabten, who was taken into custody after police raided student rooms at his school in Lanzhou, Gansu province, had also been detained before, RFA’s source said.
“In 2008, he protested by fasting while enrolled at the Northwest Nationalities University in Lanzhou,” he said.
“Then he was detained on July 26, 2009, for publishing a collection of articles called Written in Blood, for which he was subjected to intense interrogation for almost a month before being released.”
“Later, on April 4, 2010, he was detained from the university and held for a year without trial,” he said.
According to the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, three other Shar Dungri editors were also sentenced by a Chinese court on charges of “inciting separatism.”
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.
China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators since 2008 for asserting Tibetan national and cultural identity.
A total of 130 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to date in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi and Dolkar for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.