By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Feb 26: A Chinese court in Tibet has sentenced a Tibetan to death with a two-year reprieve and two others to lengthy jail terms on charges of “inciting separatism” and “disturbing social order”, a Dharamsala-based Tibetan rights group said Friday.
The Kardze Intermediate People’s Court in Sichuan has issued a suspended death sentence to a Tibetan man, identified as Pema Yeshi, 28; and sentenced Sonam Gonpo, 24, and Tsewang Gyatso a.k.a Tsok Tsok, 32, to life term and 16 years imprisonment respectively; Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said.
The centre said all three from Thangkyi Township, in Nyarong County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’) in Sichuan Province, were sentenced by the Court on 17 November 2009.
However, the family members were informed by the local officials about their court verdict only around 10 December 2009, the centre said, citing sources.
Under such circumstances, TCHRD said it was highly probable that the accused were completely denied even the basic legal rights of fair and open trial guaranteed under the Chinese laws.
The news of their arrest was first reported in the Ganzi Daily, the local Chinese official newspaper, on 18 March 2009.
According to the report, the “three Tibetans accused were arrested on 11 March 2009 under suspicion of pasting and distributing pamphlets calling for Tibet independence on roads of Thangkyi Township, Nyarong County and setting fire to the Thangkyi Township government building causing damages worth around 200,000 yuan to the government on 28 February 2009.”
For the next five months since their arrest, information on their whereabouts and conditions remained completely unknown to their family members, sources told TCHRD.
The family members came to know about their detention at Chengdu Public Security Bureau (PSB) Detention Centre only around August last year, five months after their arrests.
While Pema Yeshi, a farmer from Thangkyi township, is known to be detained at Dartsedo (Ch
: Kangding) PSB Detention Centre, Sichuan Province; Sonam Gonpo and Tsewang Gyatso, who both work as cook at the Thangkyi Primary School, are currently known to be detained at a PSB Detention Centre in Deyang City, Sichuan Province.
TCHRD said the three were actively involved in the “Farming Boycott
” and “No Losar
” movements undertaken by Tibetans inside Tibet last year to mourn the death of Tibetans and to show solidarity with other Tibetans who continued to remain in prison after the Chinese crackdown of the 2008 anti-China unrest.
According to the Centre's documentation, there are hundreds of Tibetans who are still held without any charges and at least 334 Tibetans were known to have been sentenced by courts at various levels to varying prison terms ranging from few months to death sentence.
In almost all the known cases the defendants had no independent legal counsel, and in a few cases where the defendants were being represented by a lawyer of choice, the authorities ensured that these representations were blocked either through intimidation or through procedural tactics, TCHRD said.