By Tenzin Dharpo
A-nya Sengdra in an undated photo. Source-TCHRD
DHARAMSHALA, Dec. 4: The trial for a Tibetan anti-corruption activist will begin on Thursday, over 13 months since he was detained. Anya Sengdra, 47, was detained on 4 September 2018 from the highway intersection in Golok by PSB officers and taken to the PSB detention centre in Drotsang County, Tsoshar Prefecture.
A 47-year-old Tibetan activist working to promote good governance, anti-corruption and social accountability from Kyanche. He has been a firm campaigner against government corruption at least since 2014 when he and other nomads formed a voluntary organization called ‘Mang Dhon Ling’ (Public Affairs Forum) which filed a petition calling for an investigation into the corrupt activities of the Gade County authorities and the hardships faced by the poor in his township.
Days after his detention, in the petition dated 8 September 2018, Mrs Yangkyi , his wife appealed for his release calling him a ‘law-abiding’ citizen who was falsely arrested. Since his detention, his family’s multiple attempts to visit him including interventions from his lawyer, Mr Lin Qilei, failed.
On top of the original charge against Sengdra of ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ a notice was issued on 11 December by the Gade County PSB that extended his detention period from 12 November to 12 January 2019 based on local authorities’ demand for further investigation as they suspect that he had committed other crimes in addition to ‘provoking trouble’.
According to TCHRD, ‘Provoking trouble’ is a vaguely worded offence under Article 293 of Chinese Criminal Law that has been increasingly used in recent years particularly since Xi Jinping’s presidency to persecute and launch reprisals against human rights defenders and other activists critical of government policies and practices.
“Criminalising Mr Sengdra’s heroic campaigns against corruption only exposes the hollowness and hypocrisy of the current Chinese leadership’s so-called war on corruption, said Tsering Tsomo, executive director of TCHRD earlier said.
Trials and court proceedings in China and particularly occupied Tibet is known to be largely for the optics and are labelled to be sham by international watchdogs including the Human Rights Watch. Tibetans who voice concerns against repressive Chinese polices are targeted, framed into vague charges and sentenced to prison terms to quell dissent in occupied Tibet by China.