04/21/2009, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Two more Tibetans sentenced to death for protests in March 2008

The men, whose sentence has been suspended for two years, have been found guilty of setting fire to shops, killing ethnic Hans. Dozens of Tibetans have already been sentenced to death or to harsh penalties over the protests. Beijng says the trials were fair, but Tibet is off limits and no one can verify this.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The court of Lhasa has sentenced two Tibetans to death after they were found guilty of setting fire to clothing shops during the protests in Tibet in March 2008. A total of 6 people of Han ethnicity died in the two fires.

Media sources reported on the sentence today, explaining that the execution will be suspended for two years and commuted to time in prison if the two Tibetans (only one of their names, Penkyi, a woman, is known) do not commit any more crimes during that time. The court sentenced a third Tibetan woman, Penkyi, of Nyinmo county, to life in prison, and Chimed to 10 years in prison, for involvement in the starting of the second fire.

In March of 2008, thousands of Tibetans demonstrated in Lhasa against Chinese military and economic oppression. Beijing says that the demonstrators killed 21 people, all of them Chinese, while there was only one Tibetan victim. Tibetan groups in exile respond that there were more than 200 killed in the repression by the army, and thousands arrested, many of them still in prison. This month two Tibetans, Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, were also sentenced to death, and two more to life in prison. In February, the court of Lhasa sentenced 76 people to penalties from three years to life, all of them in connection with the protests.

From Dharamsala, the Tibetan government in exile charges that the condemned did not have a fair trial. Beijing responds that they were all public trials, and those charged were defended by lawyers and had an interpreter. But analysts observe that it is not possible to verify any of this, since Tibet has been off limits to foreign media and observers for more than a year. Tibetan rights groups have also accused the Chinese government of racism for its systematic cultural genocide.

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