|Tibetan activist groups have declared April 17, 2009, as “Global Action Day” to condemn recent death sentences passed on Tibetans
By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, April 15: Several Tibetan NGOs grouped under the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement
(TPUM) Tuesday vowed massive worldwide protests to condemn recent death sentences passed on Tibetans by Chinese court.
Tenzin Choeying, national director, SFT, India, (L) and Ven. Ngawang Woebar of Guchusum Movement during a joint press conference in Dharamsala, India, Wednesday, April 15, 2009 (Photo: RFA/Dhonyoe)
A Chinese court last week handed down death sentences to Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak for their alleged involvement in starting deadly fires in last year's anti-China unrest in Tibet. Two other people- Tenzin Phuntsok and Kangtsuk were given suspended death sentences with two-year reprieve, while another Dawa Sangpo was sentenced to life imprisonment.
It was the first report of death sentences given out for last year’s unrest in Tibet that led to the most sustained uprising against Chinese rule in decades.
At a joint press conference here today, the Tibetan Women’s Association, National Democratic Party of Tibet, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet (India), declared April 17 as a “global day of action” to highlight what they believe was “unjust trials” of the five Tibetans.
The groups said there would be signature campaigns and demonstrations, including protests at respective Chinese embassies, in various parts of the world.
The four NGOs based in Dharamsala urged Tibetans and supporters around the world to take part in the global action campaign and, urged individuals and groups to write appeal letters to international bodies, governments and Chinese authorities.
“Tibetan NGOs would like to appeal all the freedom loving people of the world to kindly consider engaging with the Chinese authorities on these sentences and express grave concern that international judicial standards have not been upheld in the trial process,” the groups said in their joint press release.
The NGOs also urged the Supreme People’s Court, which usually reviews all the death sentences before being carried out, to repeal the death sentences and insisted that Chinese authorities should give “free and fair trials” to them according to the international judicial standards.
A signature campaign urging Wu Aiying, China’s Minister of Justice, to review the sentences on the five Tibetans is also under way. In the letter to the Minister, the NGOs demanded all cases related to last year’s events in Tibet be suspended until a full and independent inquiry into those events is held. The appeal letter also urged the Chinese minister to provide a full list of the names and whereabouts of Tibetans held under detention following the unrest.
The NGOs have also sent appeal letters to several rights groups, including Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch, asking for their help in the campaign to ensure fair and proper trial for the five Tibetans.
In their joint press release, the NGOs also called on the Chinese authorities to respect human rights and to allow all the detained Tibetans to independently choose their own lawyers.
China insisted that latest close-door trials had been open and fair according to Chinese law, and that the accused were defended by lawyers and provided with Tibetan interpreters.
Following the March 2008 protests, several lawyers from the Mainland China who offered to represent Tibetan detainees were, however, reportedly threatened by Chinese authorities not to help Tibetans or else they might lose their registration to practice law.
“Political prisoners were never given free and fair trial in Tibet. These sentences are part of widespread and violent campaign by the Chinese authorities to punish and silence any Tibetan who dare to speak out against Chinese rule,” says Ngawang Woebar, the president of Guchusum ex-political prisoners' movement.
Tibetan Government-in-Exile last week said those sentenced had not received a fair trial and warned of even greater resentment among Tibetans.
Chinese State News Agency Xinhua last week reported that another arson case is still under trial in Tibet.