By Tenzin Monlam
DELHI, January 23: A Tibetan political prisoner has been sentenced to two-years of imprisonment on charges of possessing a photo of the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and sharing it on social media.
Gomar Choephel, as he is known because of his native village Gomar, was sentenced on February 17 by People’s Intermediate Court in the Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province.
The 47-year old monk who was detained last year on July 10, 2015 has already spent over seven months in detention.
“He was convicted of undermining social stability and of taking actions aimed at splitting the country,” a Tibetan source told the RFA on condition of anonymity.
“He was detained last year for sending the Dalai Lama’s photo through social media and for keeping the photo in his possession,” the source said citing his contacts in Rebkong.
“If the seven months already spent in detention are counted toward his sentence, Choephel will have to serve a year and four months before he is released,” the source said.
Choephel was born in Gomar Village in Nyenthog Township in Rebkong County in Eastern Tibet. He joined the Thoesam Norling College at Rongwo Monastery at a young age.
He is currently being held in the county’s Drakmar detention center.
Tibetan Centre for Human Rights & Democracy (TCHRD), the only rights group run by Tibetans, last year condemned the arbitrary nature of Choephel’s detention and called on the Chinese authorities to release him immediately.
“The suspected ‘crime’ for which he was detained is without any legal basis since freedom of religion and belief is a right recognized in Chinese Constitution as well as International Human Rights Law. Chinese authorities actively violate religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists,” the rights group said in a statement last year.