Dharamsala, Feb. 11: China has handed down court sentences to 76 people over anti-China unrest last year in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.
The report by the official Xinhua News Agency attributed the latest figures to Nyima Tsering, a Tibetan Communist Party official, but did not elaborate on what the sentences were, what charges they faced, or what happened to those detained.
Latest figures, however, indicate the legal process is ongoing. Chinese authorities in Tibet said in November that 55 people had been sentenced to jail terms ranging from three years to life for their involvement in the "March 14 riot” in the Tibetan capital.
Peaceful protests by Tibetan monks in Lhasa on March 10 last year erupted into largest uprising against Chinese rule in nearly 50 years and the biggest unrest among Tibetans in decades.
Chinese government has released few details of the aftermath of the “March 14” unrest after it began reacting with military crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators while sealing off the region from foreign journalists and tourists.
Beijing says 22 people died, but Tibetan supporters say many times that number were killed in the protests and subsequent military crackdown.
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) based in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-exile, maintains that that the number of Tibetans sentenced in Lhasa alone could be much higher than stated by Chinese authorities.
According to the centre’s documentation, at least 190 Tibetans were known to have been sentenced by January 2009 by various county level courts in TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) and Tibetan areas outside TAR for their participation in series of protests across the Tibetan region since March last year.
Of them, the centre said, at least 7 were sentenced to life imprisonment and 90 people were given sentences of 10 or more years of imprisonment. Besides, the centre maintains that there are hundreds of Tibetans who are still held without any charges.
Last month, China launched a security sweep ahead of one of the region's most sensitive events in years — the 50th anniversary in March of a failed uprising that saw the Dalai Lama flee to exile in India.
In preparation for the possibility of more unrest, the public security bureau of Lhasa started a "strike hard" campaign against crime, with raids on residential areas, Internet cafes, bars, rented rooms, hotels and guesthouses, state media has reported.
At least 81 people have been detained and 5766 Tibetans were rounded up since the campaign was launched on January 18, reports said.