New Delhi October 14: Eight Buddhist monks have been sentenced to prison; two of them for life, after convicting them of bombing a government building in Tibet during an anti-China uprising in March, AP reported a judge as saying on Tuesday.
The monks were sentenced after being convicted of setting off a bomb at the building in Gyanbe township, the report quoted Gang Weilai, the judge who presided over the case at the People's Court in Chamdo, a Tibetan prefecture, as saying.
Gyanbe, in Gonjo County (Chamdo Prefecture), is about 855 miles east of Lhasa, Tibet's capital, where peaceful protests against Chinese rule erupted into violence in March.
Gyurmey Dhondup and Kalsang Tsering were sentenced to life in prison while the others received sentences between five and 15 years, Gang said in a telephone interview. He said the monks did not appeal their sentences.
"We were first going to charge them with the crime of separating the nation, but eventually the charge was changed to the crime of causing an explosion," Gang said, declining to explain the decision.
Gang referred all questions to the Supreme Court, the country's highest court. Telephones were not answered at the court Tuesday afternoon.
The London-based Free Tibet Campaign said the monks were sentenced on Sept. 23, but it was not made public, a common practice in China for sensitive cases. Gang refused to specify the date, saying only it happened "a few days ago."
"This case, like so many others in Tibet, demonstrates the urgent need for international media and independent agencies to be allowed immediate and free access to all areas of Tibet to investigate the accounts of arbitrary detention and abuse of Tibetans that continue to emerge," Free Tibet Campaign’s director, Stephanie Brigden, said in a statement.
China’s state run Xinhua news agency on April 13 reported an arrest of nine Tibetan Buddhist monks from Tongxia monastery, who had been accused of planting a homemade bomb on 23 March in a government office building.
Chinese state media have said eight monks from the Tongxia monastery in eastern Tibet confessed to planting the bomb, but did not explain why the alleged bomb incident was not reported earlier at the time. No casualties or damage were also reported in the blast.
China launched a massive crackdown in Tibet after widespread demonstrations broke out across the region earlier this year.
Beijing maintains only 22 people were killed in the riots. The Dalai Lama led Tibet’s Government-in-exile, based in India, accuses China of killing at east 200 Tibetans and injuring many more during the brutal crackdown. More than 1,000 people were detained, although human rights groups say the number could be higher.
Both Tibetan Government and Tibet continue to raise concerns that crackdown in Tibet has not stopped. They, in fact, maintain that Chinese repression in Tibet now is as bad as it was during the Cultural Revolution.
The Dalai Lama has called a ‘special meeting’ of ‘all Tibetan exile groups for next month, mainly to discuss the situation inside Tibet and the progress of the Sino-Tibetan talks started since 2002.
Chinese Communist troops invaded Tibet in 1950 and forced the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans to flee into exile in 1959 after an aborted uprising against the continuing Chinese presence in their homeland.
Phayul Bureau Report