By Tenzin Dharpo
Thumb imprints of local Tibetans on the petition. Photo- TCHRD
DHARAMSHALA, May 3: Nine Tibetans have reportedly been sentenced up to seven years in Chinese jail in occupied Tibet’s eastern region of Amdo for campaigning against land seized by the local Chinese government.
Dharamshala based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy said that earlier this week, Tongren County People’s Court in Rebkong County, Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province sentenced nine Tibetans. Gendun Soepa, Choesang, Bhende Dorje, Tashi Tsering, Sonam Gyal, Dhargye, Shawo Tsering, Khajam Gyal, and Dukbum Tsering all belonged to the Horgyal village. They were detained in July and arrested formally in August 2018.
The Chinese court ruled that the nine were convicted for founding an “evil organisation” to engage in “forced business transaction”, “extortion and deceit” and “disturb social order by mobilising support from the public.” The authorities accused the nine ‘ringleaders’ of the organization of ‘maliciously obstructing the government’s land acquisition work and normal construction operations, committing serious crimes that constitute gathering of people to disturb social order’, according to TCHRD.
However, a petition letter cited by TCHRD showed the signatures of the 24 khagovas (heads or leaders in Tibetan) and the support of 500 villagers, complaining that the village land had been used to open three brick factories that were then closed in 2011. While the government paid substantial monetary compensation to the factory owners, the villagers had not received their share of compensation for seven years.
The rights group said that, “the arrests were made to suppress a long-running campaign by villagers to reclaim community land expropriated by local government for a failed business enterprise and to neutralise the influence and authority of traditional village leadership system”.