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Tibetan PEN calls for unconditional release of detained Tibetan writers
Phayul[Sunday, February 03, 2008 15:04]
By Phurbu Thinley

Dharamsala, February 3: Tibetan Writers Abroad PEN Centre, a circle of Dharamsala-based exiled Tibetan writers affiliated to International PEN, organised a candle light vigil on Saturday evening calling on China for “immediate and unconditional release” of Tibetan writers currently detained in Chinese prisons inside Tibet.

The vigil was also part of the centre’s campaign to protest “the ten-year prison sentence handed down to Dolma Kyab” who was detained since March 2005 and sentenced on September 16, 2005, reportedly linked to his unpublished book, The restless Himalaya”[Ch: Sao Dong De Ximalayashan].

The Tibetan PEN centre also said they were protesting China for the other Tibetan writers currently detained in Tibet and were “calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China became a signatory in 1998”.

“We are seeking immediate assurances that they are not ill-treated in prison” and “… are urging the Chinese authorities to respect their basic rights whilst detained and to grant them full access to their families, lawyers and any necessary medical care,” the group stated in its press release.

The groups said cases of Tibetan writers facing imprisonment, house arrests and constant intimidation “for expressing the suppressed voices of the Tibetan people” are common inside Tibet.

According to the group, the literatures written by the Tibetan writers were banned, confiscated and burned down by communist authorities and the blogs created by the Tibetan writers were closed and, their writers detained and imprisoned.

“Today, the Tibetan writers dare to write under extremely difficult circumstances and cannot write on subjects that are considered sensitive by the Chinese (Communist) regime,” Lhamo Kyab, president of the Tibetan PEN Centre and member of the exile Tibetan parliament, told the participants of the candle light vigil.

Dawa Gyaltsen, Jampel Gyatso, Ven. Ngawang Phulchung, Tashi Gyaltsen, Lobsang Dharge are some of the other Tibetan writers, the group said “are serving prison sentences ranging from 5 to 19 years”. The press statement also said, “writers like Tsering Woser, Ven. Rinchen Sangpo ad Kalsang Gyam Tso (A-Kal Gyam)) are living under the precarious circumstances, near house arrest and intimidation by the Chinese authorities”.

The Tibetan PEN group said they were contacting more than 114 PEN centres around the world to share with them the plight of the Tibetan writers in Tibet and campaign for their unconditional release. The group said, with the support of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and other international Human Rights bodies, they have successfully influenced the International PEN to highlight the case of three Tibetan writers; Dolma Kyab, Dawa Gyaltsen and Jampel Gyatso on December 10 2007.

“Our campaign is also to press on the Chinese Government to respect the fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, expression and opinion of the Tibetan people,” Mr Lhamo said.
“The Chinese Government has so far repeatedly claimed that the Tibetan people were entitled to the basic rights but in reality China’s human rights records in Tibet remains grim and a matter of serious concern,” he said.

The candle light vigil proceeded from Dharamsala’s main McLeod Ganj square to the TsuglagKhang. Several Tibetans, including monks, nuns and foreign tourists took part in it.

Dharamsala in the northern Himachal State of India is the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.

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