By Tenzin Tsering
Dharamsala, June 23 - A previously unknown case of a Tibetan guide sentenced to three years of imprisonment on the charges of sending information outside Tibet during the March 14 protests in Lhasa has come to light with Dui Hua foundation obtaining the documents of the indictment and verdict and producing it in English.
The Tibetan identified as Gonpo Tsering, 32, a well respected expedition guide who has trekked with foreign celebrities and participated in high profile mountain rescue efforts under has been convicted for allegedly “inciting splittism” by sending a series of emails and text messages over three days to acquaintances outside China following the protests in Lhasa.
The verdict read that the "defendant Gonpo Tsering used the internet to deliberately fabricate rumours, distort the true situation and incite separatism” and such acts are deserving of severe punishment.
However the content of the messages were not specified and it is also questionable whether the individuals who are not located in China are even capable of carrying out acts that would “split the nation or undermine unity”, said Dui Hua foundation which doubted that the charges of ‘inciting splittism” could be hence properly applied.
It also appears that Gonpo Tsering was not represented by a lawyer at his appeal hearing which could be the result of the reluctance of most lawyers to take on criminal defense work in political cases in addition to threats of serious consequences to lawyers who volunteer to defend Tibetans, it said.
Dui Hua said his case "illustrates both the extent to which Chinese police were engaged in monitoring communications between Tibetans and outsiders" during the widespread unrest in Tibetan areas of China last spring.
Many such trial courts are held in secrecy not allowing media report to the public and the judges normally take minutes to approve state prosecution. This severe monitoring and the potential severe consequences explain the caution of many Tibetans who are discouraged from reporting to the outside world what they have witnessed and experienced thereby allowing official Chinese narrative of events to become dominant, it added.
Dua Hua which is a non profit organisation dedicated to improving universal human rights reports that it compels observers to wonder what punishments might be handed down to Tibetans who have been detained for reporting events to outside world or doing even more.