News and Views on Tibet

China holding more than 200 Tibetans as political prisoners, human rights group says

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Associated Press Writer

China has executed 81 Tibetan political prisoners in the past 16 years and another 208 Tibetans are in detention awaiting the same fate, a human rights group said today.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Dharmsala, the northern Indian town where the Dalai Lama lives, said in its annual report for 2002 that China links religious figures and political activists with terrorism and suppresses Tibetans by holding secret trials and executing them.

“This recent focus, perceiving religious leaders as a direct threat to Beijing, has resulted in a series of arrests of eastern Tibet’s most revered lamas, including Geshe Sonam Phuntsok, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and Trulku Tenzin Delek,” the report said.

The rights group is separate from the exile government established by the Dalai Lama after he fled Tibet in 1959 with thousands of supporters following a failed uprising against China.

The rights group said China had raised hopes of a political settlement last year by releasing six prominent political prisoners and holding talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

But it said China ignored international pleas and executed Lobsang Dhondup, 28, in Ganzi, a city near the Tibetan border in Sichuan province, in January after convicting him of bomb attacks in support of Tibetan independence.

The report also said 31,117 Tibetans fled their homes in 2002 and registered themselves in Dharmsala, despite heavy Chinese security at the border. Many were under age 18, looking for admission to schools run by the government-in-exile because of a lack of educational opportunities in Tibet, it said.

Many of the other refugees arrived in India seeking religious freedom, the report said.

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