News and Views on Tibet

Congressman Frank Wolf Calls Execution of Lobsang Dhondup “Very Troubling”

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Congressman Frank Wolf said during an interview with BBC today that the execution of Lobsang Dhondup following a secret trial on January 26 “does not bode well for the overall friendship” between China and the United States.

BBC World Service’s The World Today interviewed Congressmen Frank Wolf (R-VA) for his reaction to news of the execution of Lobsang Dhondup on January 27, 2003.

His remarks are transcribed below:

Wolf: This was one case that the United States raised when our Assistant Secretary of State, Lorne Craner, was there, I think about a month ago and we’re led to believe that he never had an opportunity for appeal – and at a time that people we thought things were lightening up a little because they allowed some Tibetans to come back in, it looks like it’s going just the other way.

As you know, there are a number of Chinese intellectuals who had asked the government to allow them to hire lawyer[s] for the bombing suspects, and also I do not believe they allowed outside observers and foreign media to observe the trial. So, it’s very bad.

BBC: Do you think there is doubt about the guilt of these men because the Chinese say they have a confession and that the two men were responsible for a sting of Tibetan pro-independence bombings in which at least one person was killed?

Wolf: I have been to Tibet, and the Tibetan people are very, very mild and very, very peaceful. Most of the Tibetan monks that I’ve met are peaceful people; they’re just looking for the opportunity to worship as they see appropriate.

I have been in some of the Chinese prisons, and [I am] knowledgeable of some of the torture that takes place, so just because there happens to be a confession doesn’t really mean very much.

I think that the fact that the trial wasn’t open to the public is very disturbing because I think that’s an opportunity for people to see what happens.

Also the fact that so many people asked that there be the right to appeal and that, generally, in the past there has been the right to appeal, I think, are two very disturbing things – particularly since this was one of the cases that was raised by the State Department.

BBC: So you would see this as a direct rebuff to the U.S. government?

Wolf: I would have to say that this is a direct rebuff to the U.S. government, but also to many other governments, because as you go around the world most people are very sympathetic to the plight of the Tibetans. They are of absolutely no threat to the Chinese government and they are a very peaceful people, and so I just don’t understand what this means.

Sure, it is a rebuff, but I think more importantly it is a sign that perhaps they’re beginning to crack down, which does not bode well for the overall friendship between our countries and the concern with regard to human rights.

You have a number of Catholic bishops that are in jail, you have a number of Evangelical pastors, as you know, you have a number of Muslims and now you have this execution of this Buddhist, so I think it’s very troubling.

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