By Tenzin Sangmo
Police raid on a casino venue [Photo- Hongyuan county government]
DHARAMSHALA, June 28: In an ongoing nationwide campaign to eliminate criminal activities related to ‘black and evil forces,’ Chinese authorities have sentenced 21 Tibetans in Shordha town in Nangchen (Ch:Nangqin) County, Kyegudo (Ch: Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, in the Tibetan province of Kham.
According to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy(TCHRD), the 21 Tibetans were accused of criminal activities associated with evil forces usurping grassroots political control. The charges also included “creating hurdles for the government policy, not accepting environmental conservation compensation, and stopping others from receiving it, and negatively influencing the regular working of the village and party committees.”
Pema Gyal, a Tibetan researcher at TCHRD remarked that the campaign clearly is politically motivated and the inclusion of a broad range of subjects under its ambit allows the authorities to arrest anyone with impunity.
Sentenced in two groups, eleven people were fined from 10,000 to 50,000 yuan, accompanied by a prison sentence ranging from two to six years. Another group of ten people were sentenced from three and a half to six years in prison with a fine amount of 2,00,000 to 3,50,000 yuan.
Local authorities claimed that these two cases “symbolise the criminal activities associated with evil forces usurping grassroots political control.” Zomché and Wangché, the leaders of two groups, were accused of “mobilising the support of a group of villagers to establish an ‘environmental protection committee’, which they later used to create a ’10-member committee’ and a ‘nine-member team’ to interfere with government activities and seize grassroots power to create hurdles in the implementation of government policy.”
“Since last year China has deepened the widespread and systematic campaign to weed out ‘organised crimes and other black and evil forces’, raising fears over potential human rights violations faced by human rights defenders and dissenters,” TCHRD outlined.
In April this year, nine Tibetans were sentenced from three to seven years in prison in Rebkong (Ch: Tongren) County, Malho (Ch: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.
Calling for immediate release of all detained in the campaign, TCHRD stated that there is a growing concern that the Chinese authorities are using the campaign to launch a political witch-hunt to crush peaceful dissent in Tibet.