May 01, 2012

Tibet: Protester Sentenced To Life Imprisonment

Since the Tibetan protest against Chinese ruling in January 2012 in the Draggo county center, Beijing has been determined to pursue and detain participating Tibetans.

Below is an article published by Radio Free Asia:

A court in China’s southwestern Sichuan province has sentenced a Tibetan who participated in a January [2012] protest against Chinese rule to life in prison and handed terms of varying length to 15 other protesters, Tibetan sources said.

The January 23 [2012] protest in the Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county center in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture began peacefully but ended in gunfire as hundreds of Tibetans called for freedom for Tibet and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

At least two, and as many as six, protesters were believed killed when Chinese police opened fire on the crowd, Tibetan sources in the region and in exile said.

“Since the Tibetan protest in Draggo county on Jan. 23 [2012] for the restoration of Tibetan freedom, the Chinese crackdown on Tibetans in the area and detentions have been continuing without end,” an India-based monk said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing sources with contacts in the region.

“On April 26, [2012] 16 Tibetans who were involved in the January protest in Draggo were sentenced to jail terms of varying lengths,” he said, adding that one man, Sonam Lhundrub, had been given a life term.

No explanation was given for the greater severity of the sentence handed to Sonam Lundrub, and details of the charges made against him and the others were not immediately available.

Among the others handed prison terms were Wangchen Tsering, 30 and a native of Gephen Likhokma village, who was sentenced to nine years; Jewo, also from Gephen Likhokma and sentenced to 12 years; Adzi Shopo and Choenam, each given three-year terms; Kuntho, 20, sentenced to 13 years; Kundrub, 30, sentenced to 11 years; Nyendrag, 30, sentenced to one year and eight months; Phurba Tsering, 30, sentenced to two years; and Wangtse, 20, given one year and nine months.

Others sentenced included Damdul, the son of Phasoe, who was sentenced to 10 years, and Pema Woeser, the son of Gyepa, sentenced to a five-year term, the source said.

Meanwhile, police continue to round up Tibetans suspected of involvement in the Draggo protests, most recently taking into custody two monks and a layman, the source said.

“Tashi Thargyal, a monk of Draggo monastery, was recently detained by Chinese police who had been secretly watching for him.”

“Another monk named Namgyal and a layman were detained with him,” he said, adding that Tashi Thargyal is believed to be held  in a prison in Dartsedo (in Chinese, Kangding) county.

Chinese authorities have expelled over 30 young monks from Draggo monastery and have ordered that no monks below the age of 14 be allowed to remain, the source said, and a monastery school that once housed 140 students and was earlier ordered closed was re-opened on April 25 with only 40 students attending.

“The authorities also launched a re-education campaign in the area, but Tibetans in the area clearly demonstrated their resentment by smashing police vehicles. On suspicion of involvement,  Sonam Rinchen, the son of Loden Sherab, and Troma were detained,” he said.

Also in Kardze, a monk attached to the Dza Samdrub monastery remains missing after he was detained by police on March 7 [2012], a U.S.-based Tibetan said, citing sources in the region.

Khedrub Dorje, 38 and the son of Rigdzin Dorje and Jampa Khandro of Hena town in the Dzakhok district, had staged a solitary protest in front of a hotel in the marketplace of Kardze town, the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Witnesses saw him shouting slogans calling for freedom for Tibet and for the return of the Dalai Lama,” the source said, adding that Chinese police arriving on the scene assaulted him and took him to an unknown location.

“Now it is nearly two months after he was detained, and his family still doesn’t know his whereabouts,” he said.

Sichuan has been the scene of most of the 35 Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese rule that have taken place since February 2009.

These have resulted in a major security crackdown in the province and in two other Tibetan-populated provinces, Qinghai and Gansu, as well as in the Tibet Autonomous Region.