News and Views on Tibet

Tibetans hearing postponed

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Colorado Daily Staff

A Chinese court was expected to have a second hearing Jan. 10 for two Tibetans convicted and sentenced to death for allegedly bombing and inciting separatist activities in Tibet in April, 2002.

Members of different activist groups across the nation and in Boulder are still urging people to write and call Chinese officials in protest of the conviction, which is thought to be politically motivated.

The two men, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and Lobsand Dhondup, were to stand trial again under the same charges for the bombings that took place last year. Although reports from China are unconfirmed, the trial was reportedly postponed according to an AFP news release.

Rinpoche, a 52-year-old monk, and Dhondup, a 28-year-old activist, were denied independent council by the Chinese Government, causing many to believe the original trial, which took place on Dec. 2, 2002, was politically motivated and likely a frame-up of the two.

If the appeals fail, Dhundup could be executed after a few days while Rinpoche’s original death sentence will remain suspended for two years.

An e-mail from the Rangzen list, a newsgroup in Tibet, says the appeals judge in China decided not to allow two prominent Beijing lawyers, hired by Rinpoche’s brother, to serve as counsel for the convicted men. The e-mail also says a Chinese dissident, Wang Lixiong, along with others, “believes that Sichuan (the Chinese province where the trial is to be held) authorities may have pressured the appeal trial judge to prevent the Beijing lawyers acting on the Rinpoche’s behalf” and “also believed that local defence [sic] lawyers will be unable to mount as vigorous a defence [sic] as they are dependent on the Sichuan authorities.”

A global campaign was launched last year in protest of what many saw as an unfair trial. Also, it is rumored by Rangzen that the prisoners were “severely ill-treated or possibly tortured.”

A letter from the Global Peace Foundation dated Jan. 9 informed the reader of the appeals trial. Arriving just hours before the retrial was to take place, the letter asked for immediate action. It had a list of e-mails and fax numbers for Chinese government officials in China and the Chinese embassies in Washington D.C.

In Boulder, several Tibetan groups are actively involved in a campaign to raise awareness about the situation in hopes of ensuring a fair trial for the two men.

Tenzin Dhongyal, a student at CU-Boulder, is also a member of Students For a Free Tibet. He said the letter writing campaign last year was very successful and the postponement of the retrial is evidence of China’s hesitation.

Dhongyal is hoping to encourage the United States to take a more active role with China. He believes the United States has a large amount of influence with the Chinese.

“The United States has a lot of influence with China,” said Dhongyal. “America isn’t doing enough as it should. When dealing with China, their economy always proceeds human rights issues.”

Students For a Free Tibet, the Colorado Association of Tibet and Colorado Friends of Tibet were to meet in Boulder Sunday, Jan. 12, to discuss how the separate groups can more efficiently direct their campaigns in the future.

“We need to network and work together,” said Dhongyal. “We need to push our legislature to reverse the death sentence of the two men and to relieve the situation between Tibet and China.”

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