News and Views on Tibet

Terror of the Dragon

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By Tsering Tsomo Chatsug

The Dragon does it again.

The US Assistant Secretary of State, Lorne Craner has been taken for a ride by his Chinese counterparts in the mid-December human rights talks in Beijing. Craner took up the case of death sentences passed on two Tibetans during the talks. Reliable report points to an apparent confirmation that Craner was kept in the dark about the arrest of ten more Tibetans in connection with the case. A third Tibetan, among the ten arrested, named Jortse a.k.a. Tsering Dhondup has been sentenced to five years in prison recently. Reports further indicate that these additional arrests were made in months preceding the visit of Lorne Craner to Beijing.

The US government quickly expressed its ‘concern’ and ‘disappointment’ over the news that Beijing withheld this crucial information related to a case that has sparked international outcry and criticism. This revelation puts a shadow of doubt over Beijing’s sincerity and seriousness in dealing with the issue of human rights. Craner’s confident announcement, right after the dialogue, about Beijing’s decision to invite UN special rappoteur to assess rights situation in areas under China’s control, is nothing more than a publicity stunt by the PRC. The accused Tibetans, Tulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and his attendant, Lobsang Dhondup were sentenced for carrying out a series of bomb blast in Chengdu city of Sichuan province. In an early December trial shrouded with secrecy, Trulku, a highly respected Buddhist teacher, was sentenced to death with a suspension of two years while Lobsang Dhondup was given immediate death sentence with life long deprivation of ‘political rights’. It is amusing to note here that the Chinese never fails to take advantage wherever possible; even in the use of semantics. ‘Political right’ has always been a stranger to those inside Tibet. There never existed any sort of political rights for Lobsang before; so the ‘deprivation’ non-existent.

An AP news report indicated that Lobsang Dhondup has been executed on a Sunday afternoon(Jan 26) in Ganzi city in Sichuan province after the rejection of his appeal. The execution was carried out after a secret retrial at the Sichuan Provincial Higher People’s Court. The news about the execution is yet to be confirmed. The news touched off a heightened atmosphere of condemnation and public outrage amongst the Tibetan Diasporic community, the Tibet supporters and the international community. The Dharamsala-based Tibetan Government in exile, in a statement to the press, expressed ‘deep regret’ and ‘disappointment’ at the reported execution of the 28-yr-old Lobsang Dhondup. The statement further accused China of deviating from the ‘due process of law’, for not carrying out a ‘fair and transparent’ trial and for failing to come up with ‘compelling evidence’ in relation to the case.

From the time of the arrest of Trulku Tenzin Delek in May last year (Trulku was held incommunicado for eight months) till now, Chinese authorities dealt with the case secretively. Both Trulku and Lobsang are believed to have suffered severe torture and beatings in custody. Speculations are rife as to why the additional arrests were made. Were these men just political scapegoats at the hands of the authorities? Considering the dubious nature of China’s criminal justice system, one has every reason to believe that the arrests were made through forced confessions. Torture is still used extensively to procure fake ‘evidences’. In an audiotape smuggled out of Tibet, Trulku Tenzin Delek Rinpoche said he was innocent and that he was ‘wrongly accused’ as a punishment for his devotion towards the interests of the Tibetans and allegiance to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

New York-based Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) expressed outrage and demanded answers from China as to why the trial was held secretly and the US consulate in Chengdu were denied access to the trial. Information is difficult to filter out of China’s secretive walls. The ten arrests made so far could be just the tip of the iceberg. No one knows what is happening inside Tibet but everyone knows Tibetans there are unsafe and live in constant fear.

It does not need a political analyst to see that China is making most of the prevailing anti-terrorism mood.

Countless religious leaders and priests are arrested on charges of terrorism. In the name of terrorism, Chinese authorities are engaged in full scale human rights abuses that has unleashed a reign of terror inside Tibet and other occupied areas under Chinese occupation notably Xinjiang where thousands of Uighur Muslims are victimized for seeking independence and demanding democracy. Terrorism has become the most handy weapon to remove any kind of dissident voices and threat to the power of the Party and stability of the PRC. More than one billion Chinese people today live in terror; helpless, frustrated and democracy-deprived, with a gang of terrorists as their leaders; China is an unfortunate nation without any freedom of the mind and soul.

Interestingly, China is fond of labelling its enemies as rogue states when the world knows who exactly are the real rogues. China is instrumental in sponsoring many military activities aimed at jeopardizing world peace and stability. Some instances point to apparent Chinese designs: the sudden rise of Nepal’s Maoist rebels, Pakistan’s belligerent posture and North Korea’s hawkish attitude.

The Party in China is hell-bent on terrorizing the lives of the peoples under its rule. Everything is being watched, scrutinized, tracked, searched and frisked. Freedom is the biggest casualty of China’s draconian laws and policies.

Today it is Tibet, tomorrow it could be any nation and people. The silence will cost us dearly. The Dragon is the terrorist.

Tsering Tsomo Chatsug can be contacted at

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