Chinese paramilitary police patrol a streets in Drango. (File photo)
DHARAMSHALA, May 2: China continues to tighten the noose on Tibetans who had taken part in the peaceful protests in Drango, eastern Tibet, earlier this year.
Chinese courts in eastern Tibet has sentenced 16 Tibetans to varying prison terms – from nine months to life-imprisonment - on unknown charges.
In a release Monday, the Dharamshala based rights group, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said that the courts sentenced 16 Tibetans, including both monks and laymen, in April for their “involvement” in the January 23 protests.
According to the release, Sonam Lhundup, a Tibetan in his 30’s, was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Kuntho was sentenced to 13 years. Jebay and Wangchen Tsering were handed prison terms of 12 years and 9 years respectively while Kundup was sentenced to 11 years and Choenam and Azi Shopo were sentenced to 3 years each.
Sonam Dhargyal was sentenced to 10 years and Pema Woesel to 5 years.
Others sentenced include Nyendak, Phurwa Tsering, and Wangtse. Identity of the remaining Tibetans, who have been sentenced from 10 to 13 years in jail, are not yet known.
Confirming the sentencing of the Tibetan protesters, the Central Tibetan Administration in a report noted that since the peaceful protests, China has maintained a “strict and repressive” presence in the Drango region.
“Since the peaceful protest against the Chinese government in Kham Drango, Chinese military personnels have maintained a strict and repressive presence in the area,” CTA noted. “Scores of Tibetan monks and lay persons were arrested arbitrarily during the protests and sentenced to various prison terms.”
Hundreds of Tibetans had come out on the streets in Drango on January 23, the first day of Chinese New Year, calling for Tibet’s freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. Chinese security personnel retaliated by firing indiscriminately at the unarmed demonstrators, killing and injuring scores of people.
Following the protests, Chinese authorities led a large scale manhunt for suspected demonstrators. In one instance, Chinese security personnel shot down and killed two brothers in their hideout in the nearby hills of Drango.
Observers have noted that the speedy sentencing of Tibetans showed signs of a miscarriage of proper judicial procedure and flayed Beijing for “criminalising” all legitimate forms of peaceful expressions.