07/17/2006, 00.00
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Tibetan monk condemned to eight years in prison for pro-independence slogans

The Chinese authorities charged the monk with writing pro-independence slogans for Tibet and distributing flyers urging separation from Beijing. He is one of the four master chanters at the Ganzi monastery, where the sect of the Dalai Lama comes from.

Ganzi (AsiaNews/RFA) – A Tibetan monk in the south-west province of Sichuan has been condemned to eight years in prison for "writing separatist slogans on government buildings" and "circulating pro-independence (for Tibet) flyers", according to a local source who asked to remain anonymous for reasons of safety.

The monk, Namkha Gyaltsen, comes from Thinley Lado village in the autonomous prefecture of Ganzi, and he is one of four master chanters at the Ganzi monastery. The public ministry claimed the monk wrote pro-independence slogans on the walls of government buildings in Tibet and on two iron bridges nearby.

To avoid arrest, the source said, Gyaltsen ran to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to escape to India from there, but police detained him and returned him to Ganzi.

Another source said the monk was accused of preparing and distributing pro-independence flyers and for displaying a Tibetan national flag. "The Chinese authorities forced him to confess. Now he is Ngaba where he will stay for seven or eight years."
The Beijing authorities and Tibetans often clash in the autonomous prefecture of Ganzi: the local monastery houses about 500 monks of the Gelupka or "yellow hat" Tibetan Buddhist sect, to which the Dalai Lama also belongs.

China describes its occupation of Tiber, under way since 1950, as a "liberation that saved the Tibetans of the region from feudal oppression". Beijing formally created an autonomous Tibetan region in 1965 but the Dalai Lama, the supreme spiritual and political leader of the region, claims that the central government has not granted genuine autonomy.

Tibet's government in exile is based in Dharamsala in India and it was formed by the Dalai Lama in 1959, nine years after the region was invaded by Communist troops. Although Beijing considers him as a traitor, very many Tibetans remain loyal to the Dalai Lama, who is held to be something between a king and a god.

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