12/23/2008, 00.00
CHINA – TIBET

Tibetans sentenced to years in prison

China is detaining and sentencing people who protested in Tibet and Sichuan against police violence and for greater freedom. At the time the incidents had led to worldwide protests which worried Beijing.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tibetans “guilty” of protesting last March against the Chinese government are being tried and sentenced to long years in prison. Local sources told Radio Free Asia that “two monks, Orgyen Tashi and Tenzin Ngodrub, were sentenced by the Kardze (Ganzi in Chinese) People’s Intermediate Court to three years’ imprisonment for participating in peaceful protests last 18 March. The fate of a third monk, Lobsang, who had at first been detained with the others, remains a “mystery” and his family has “no information about his [. . .] place of detention.” At the time protests had broken out in response to violence by Chinese police in Tibet but also in Sichuan, home to Tibetan enclaves.

Tibet's government in exile said more than 200 Tibetans were killed in the subsequent region-wide Chinese crackdown. China reported instead that police killed just one "insurgent" and blames Tibetan "rioters" for the deaths of 21 people.

Four other Tibetans involved in the 18 March protest were sentenced to three year’s imprisonment. Pema Deshey, Tashi Palden, Goga, and Sangpo were “severely tortured during three months of detention in Kardze,” a source said. “Later, they were moved to Nyagrong (Xinlong in Chinese) County prison and detained for a little over six months.”

More than 200 Tibetans were detained following protests throughout Kardze, taken away by the truckload under heavy guard. The personal belongings of some of them were eventually returned to their family.

“About 20 were released, while the rest are still being held,” another source said. “About 70 per cent of those are said to have been sentenced to prison terms of different lengths.”

“Recently, the Kardze People’s Intermediate Court secretly sentenced Sherab, a monk of the Khangmar monastery, to three years in prison,” a third source said.

“Tsering Phuntsog, also a monk from Khangmar, was given 2-1/2 years, and a lay youth named Palden Wangyal, 19, was given a three-year term.”

In March Chinese repression and arrests had generated worldwide protests, including calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.

China tried to calm the situation by opening a dialogue with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

However, after the Olympic Games it reiterated its claim that the Tibetan spiritual leader was a “terrorist” and refused again to consider any request for Tibetan autonomy or any protection for its culture.

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