Three Tibetan writers detained earlier this year by Chinese authorities have been handed jail terms of three to four years for "inciting activities to split the nation," according to sources in the region.
The three writers—Jangtse Donkho, Buddha, and Kalsang Jinpa—were tried on Oct. 28 by the Aba [in Tibetan, Ngaba] Intermediate People's Court, but the sentences were not handed down until Thursday.
"The three Tibetan writers were sentenced for three-to-four years in jail by the Ngaba Intermediate Court on Dec. 30, 2010," said a source from inside Tibet.
"Jangtse Donkho and Buddha were given four years and Kalsang Jinpa was sentenced to three years in prison," the source said.
The sentences were handed down without any representations by the defendants or their family or legal counsel, the source added.
"None of the Tibetan writers or their lawyers or family members were allowed to speak in the court at the time of verdict," the source said.
"When the judge ordered all in the court to rise for the verdict, all three did not comply and remained seated."
When the judge announced that Jangste Donkho would receive a jail term of four years, he clapped his hands, the source added.
"This could be a sarcastic gesture against the judgement," the source said. "The other two remained silent."
The three men have 15 days to appeal the sentence.
They were first detained in June and July, and were charged primarily because of articles they wrote about the 2008 Tibetan protest movement in a local newsletter, Shar Dungri ("Eastern Snow Mountain").
Each of the men pleaded not guilty during the trial, which lasted half a day.
Buddha had earlier spoken in court in fluent Chinese to say that articles of the kind that he and the other men were accused of writing were also published by Han Chinese.
He said the punishment handed down to the three writers was biased because of their ethnicity, accusing the authorities of perpetrating "injustice among different nationalities."
The other men spoke in Tibetan in their own defense, but witnesses said they were hampered by poor interpreting.
China has jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights in the two years since widespread protests swept the region, according to a report released earlier this year by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).
Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Luisetta Mudie.