02/26/2010, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET

Death sentences and prison for three Tibetan activists. Beijing silences media

The death sentence is suspended; prison for 24 and 16 years. The closed court trial, took place in November, news emerging only in recent days. TCHRD activist: China carries out trials “in secret" and the Tibetans are afraid to spread the news in the fear of retaliation.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - The People's Court of Kardze has convicted three Tibetan for "inciting separatism" and "disturbing social order", with sentences ranging from death to 16 years in prison. The judges issued the ruling November 17 last, but the news has filtered through only in recent days. Human rights activists in Tibet explain that the authorities carry out trials "in secret" to prevent the spread of information and the Tibetans themselves are "more cautious" in sending news outside, for fear of retaliation by the Chinese authorities.  

On 17 November, the Intermediate People's Court of Tibet Autonomous Prefecture (TAP) in Kardze, sentenced to death - but the sentence was suspended for two years - Pema Yeshi, 28. The courts have imposed a life sentence at Sonam Gonpo, 24 and 16 years in prison Tsewang Gyatso, aka Tsok Tsok, 32. Sources in the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reveal that the three Tibetans come from Thangkyi, the county town of Nyarong (Xinlong Xian, in Chinese), Sichuan Province. The three convicts are accused of "inciting separatism" and "disturbing social order".

The news of their arrest was published March 18, 2009 by the newspaper Ganzi Daily, which reports their arrest on the 11th of that month.  According to the report they distributed leaflets praising the independence of Tibet and set fire to Thangkyi government buildings, causing severe damage.  

For five months the family heard nothing about their fate until the following August. The three Tibetans, in fact, they were locked up in prison Chengdu and November 17 went on trial. The trial was held behind closed doors and without the slightest respect for human rights, among which there is also the right of defence of the accused. On 10 December, finally, local officials informed relatives of the sentence.  

Tashi Choephel Jamatsang member of TCHRD, tells AsiaNews that "just last week we had the confirmation of the sentence" because the trial was held "in secret in November of 2009" and the family "was not informed until a month later ". The activist adds that "Tibetans are very cautious in sending information" abroad, because "too many have been arrested and charged with treason" for having "spread secrets to the outside world." "This - he concludes - explains the delay in releasing the news," but the "concern" about the sentence and the conditions of the Tibetan people remains.
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