By Phuntsok Yangchen
Tibetan students leading a protest march in Tongren on October 21, 2010.
DHARAMSHALA, August 22: A Chinese court in eastern Tibet has sentenced two Tibetan students to three years in prison for their role in a major student’s protest earlier this year against government policies of favouring Chinese over Tibetan language in Tibetan schools.
The two students, Tashi Tsering, 22 and Choeyang Gonpo, 21, both from the Kangtsa County School of Nationalities, were sentenced to three years in prison by a provincial level court. They were held in detention since March this year.
According to the US based news service RFA, the two “were charged with advocating independence for Tibet.”
It is believed that Tashi and Choeyang were singled out for trial and sentencing because of their status as head and assistant monitors of their class and also because both of them were of legal age for action to be taken against them.
Details on when the sentencing was passed are not clear.
Family members of the two students were allowed to visit them on July 16 at the prison complex in Duoba after being denied on many previous occasions.
In March this year, thousands of Tibetan students had taken to the streets in eastern Tibet demanding language rights after Chinese authorities replaced Tibetan language textbooks of regular subjects with Chinese language.
There were reports of students’ protests from Rebkong, Tsekhok, and Kangtsa areas of Amdo.
It was earlier reported that more than one hundred students from the Kangtsa School of Nationalities had taken part in the protests on March 14 “calling for self-ownership of land” and "equality for languages.”
In another incident in Rebkong on March 4, around 700 students from the Rebkong County National Middle School, ripped their new textbooks
in Chinese language and tried to march into the town calling for language rights.
The students’ protests were largest since October 2010, when thousands of school students in Rebkong had marched on the streets, protesting a Chinese government decision to replace Tibetan with Chinese language as the medium of instruction in Tibetan schools.