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  • » 10/16/2008, 00.00


    Post-Olympics: more life sentences for Tibetan monks

    On September 23, eight monks were sentenced at a secret trial, for an attack against a public building, without proof and in violation of any right of defense. Free Tibet Campaign: with the continuing illegal detentions and abuses, "it is urgent" that independent observers be admitted.

    Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - Eight Tibetan Buddhist monks have been sentenced to life in prison or to long imprisonment for a bombing attack, without any victims, on March 23, against a government building in the city of Gyanbe, about 1,400 kilometers east of Lhasa. The monks, all from the Thangkya monastery (Tongxia in Chinese) near Gyanbe, in jail since April, were sentenced on September 23 - immediately after the end of the Paralympics - by a tribunal in the prefecture of Chamdo, at the end of a secret trial. Not even their relatives were informed, although in general in China there is a great uproar over trials for such attacks.

    Sources for AsiaNews say that the most basic rights of defense have been violated: the monks were unable to see their relatives, nor could they have any legal assistance, during the entire period of their detention up until their sentencing. The state newspaper People's Daily reported on April 14 that all of the monks confessed. But sources for AsiaNews respond that this "is not credible," and that the monks were tortured to extract confessions. The affair is being compared to the one in 2002 that led to a death sentence for Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, a trusted collaborator of the Dalai Lama, who was also accused in a bombing attack.

    Condemned to life sentences are the monks Gyurmey Dhondup, 28, and Kalsang Tseri 20, while the six others were sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in prison. It is not clear what they were accused of. Two other monks arrested in April have been released, while the fate of the monk Sichod is unknown after he was arrested with them but then disappeared. The layman Tseten, who worked in a store near the monastery and was arrested with monks, remains in jail.

    Stephanie Bridgen, director of the Free Tibet Campaign, observes that "This case, like so many others in Tibet, demonstrates the urgent need for international media and independent agencies to be allowed immediate and free access to all areas of Tibet to investigate the accounts of arbitrary detention and abuse of Tibetans that continue to emerge. World leaders must do more to bring appropriate pressure on Chinese leaders to open up Tibet to independent scrutiny."

    The monks in Tibet began peaceful protests on March 10, which after four days erupted into clashes with the police and army, with killings and guerrilla combat. Since then, the area has been off-limits to the foreign media. Only a few areas have been reopened for tourism, and they are carefully watched. The Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala (India) charges that China has arrested more than 1,000 people, and that there have been at least 140 deaths, while Beijing says there have been only 22 victims, mostly of Chinese ethnicity. (NC)

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    See also

    05/11/2008 TIBET - CHINA
    Beijing continues arrests and sentencings, Tibetans seek new means of struggle
    The authorities acknowledge that 55 sentences have been handed down for the protests in March, and more than 200 people are still in jail, but they do not say what will happen to them. Meanwhile, the arbitrary arrests of monks continue. In mid-November, Tibetan leaders in exile meet in India, to discuss new political leadership and new action.

    12/03/2008 TIBET - CHINA - INDIA
    Tibet, thousands of police break up protest by monks
    About two thousand policemen, in riot gear, launched tear gas against a group of monks asking for the liberation of some of their fellow monks. In New Delhi, Tibetan women commemorate the massacre of 1959.

    29/03/2008 TIBET - CHINA - NEPAL
    An armed escort for the Olympic torch, symbol of peace and fraternity
    In Nepal, the army will watch over pro-Tibet protests. Hundreds of demonstrators are already in jail in the country. The Dalai Lama asks for a "constructive dialogue", and denounces the genocide taking place. Meanwhile, the European Union has not decided to take any action against the repression, and Western diplomats are letting themselves be "led around" in Lhasa, under careful supervision.

    04/08/2008 INDIA - TIBET - CHINA - NEPAL
    Tibetan Olympic torch, sign of freedom and justice
    In imitation of the Olympic torch, it has crossed five continents to recall the Tibetan question and Chinese repression against rights in the country, and call for Tibet's freedom. Meanwhile, yesterday in Nepal 253 pro-Tibet demonstrators were arrested.

    08/07/2008 TIBET - INDIA - CHINA
    Wanted: Olympic athletes to remember Tibet in Beijing
    Pro-Tibet groups launch a campaign for Olympic athletes to remember the persecution in Tibet. Meanwhile, more than 1,000 monks are in prison, and will be freed only after the Games.

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