04/09/2009, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Death sentence for Tibetans is a "state murder"

by Nirmala Carvalho
The tough stance of Tibetan leader Urgen Tenzin over the death sentences issued yesterday by the court of Lhasa, in a trial that is maintained to have been unjust. But the greatest concern is for the "more than 6,000 Tibetans arrested arbitrarily," many of them still awaiting trial.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - "The death sentence of the two Tibetans without a fair trial is a state murder." Urgen Tenzin, executive director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, comments exclusively for AsiaNews on the death sentences issued yesterday, while he maintains that the general situation of the Tibetan people is even more serious.

Yesterday, the court of Lhasa sentenced to death the Tibetans Lobsang Gyaltsen (28) and Loyak (about 30), for setting shops on fire during the protests in Lhasa in March of 2008, which caused the death of the Chinese who ran them. According to Beijing, these protests caused 19 deaths, all of them Chinese. Tibetan sources have always spoken of at least 200 Tibetans killed by the army and police.

Two other Tibetans - Tenzin Phuntsok and Kangtusk (22) - have been sentenced to death, but their execution has been suspended for two years. Dawa Sangpo has been sentenced to life in prison.

Xinhua has said that the trial was fair, and that the accused were represented by defense attorneys. But analysts and the international media have observed that no one is able to verify this, in a Tibet that has been off limits to the foreign press for more than a year, and in which only a very few tourists are allowed, with special permits to participate in guided tours.

Urgen explains that "There was no fair trial. [These sentences] only prove that the Chinese are not even bothered about human rights violations and international opinion, they brazenly follow their own policies. Tibetans are being humiliated and crushed under the repressive Chinese officials and not even given a fair trial."

He recalls that during the protests in March of 2008 and afterward, "more than 6,000 Tibetans have been arrested and nearly 2,019 sentenced without any fair trails and often under torture – both physical and psychological. ‘Confessional statements’ are extracted from them."

In recent months, the areas inhabited by Tibetans have been under de facto martial law, out of fear of protests on the occasion of the anniversary of the protests in 2008. Any sort of protest, even peaceful, has been repressed with arrests and beatings.

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