By Tenzin Monlam
Tsegon Gyal Photo-TCHRD
DHARAMSHALA, February 20: A former Tibetan political prisoner arbitrarily detained in 2016 and kept incommunicado for over a year has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment by the Tsojang Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court last month.
According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Tsegon Gyal was sentenced on January 10 on charges of ‘inciting separatism’, a common charge levied against Tibetans. Soon after the verdict, the former political prisoner was transferred to the Dongchuan Prison in Siling city.
He was most likely sentenced for publishing a blogpost on WeChat in which he criticised the Chinese government for failing to genuinely promote its policy of ‘ethnic unity’, a source told the Dharamshala-based Tibetan rights group.
The verdict arrived after eight months since Gyal was first put to trial on May 3, 2017. As per the report, the 55-year-old was not provided any legal representatives or a fair trial. Moreover, his parents and relatives were not allowed to attend his trial that happened behind closed doors.
Since his arrest last year till his sentencing, Gyal has been kept incommunicado in the custody of the prefecture State Security Bureau officials at the Kangtsa County detention center.
“We strongly condemn the arbitrary detention and sentencing of Mr. Gyal without granting him the access to legal representation and the right to a fair trial. Gyal must be released without any delay or conditions because he broke no law,” said TCHRD.
In 1993, Tsegon Gyal was arrested with two others, Lukar Jam and Namlo Yak Dhungser, by the provincial state security officers for setting up a group, which reportedly conspired with outsiders for Tibetan independence activities in Tibet. In 1994, Gyal was convicted for ‘espionage and counterrevolutionary crimes’ and sentenced to 16 years, with deprivation of political rights for four years.
The former teacher spent six years in jail without political rights for two years, and was released in 1999. Since then he has been known for devoting his life towards welfare of his community and fellow Tibetans.