News and Views on Tibet

U.S. Concerned About Execution of Tibetan

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By John Ruwitch

BEIJING – The United States said on Tuesday it was concerned a Tibetan man executed in China for a spate of bombings and a monk given a suspended death sentence in the same case were not given a fair trial.

“We join the international community in raising concerns over the reported execution of Lobsang Dhondup and the suspended sentence of Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche,” a U.S. embassy spokesman said in Beijing.

The embassy “repeatedly registered deep concerns over the lack of transparency and apparent lack of due process in these cases,” he said.

A court official in Sichuan told Reuters the execution took place Sunday after the top court in the western province rejected Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche’s appeal and also approved the death sentence on Lobsang Dhondup.

Suspended death sentences, like that imposed on the monk, are usually commuted to life imprisonment in China.

The two men were charged with a string of pro-independence bombings in the Tibetan-populated Sichuan area of Garze over the past few years in which one person was killed, state media said.

Many Tibetans resent what they see as the Chinese occupation of the Himalayan region since the People’s Liberation Army marched in and imposed Communist rule in 1950, and there has been sporadic violence over the years.


China denied a U.S. request to let an observer attend the trial, the embassy spokesman said.

He said the Foreign Ministry assured the United States repeatedly that the Supreme People’s Court — China’s highest — would review the cases before any sentence was carried out.

“It is not clear whether this review took place,” he said.

In December, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner and John Hanford, the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, raised the issue while visiting China for the first bilateral human rights dialogue in more that a year.

Both officials “emphasized the need to respect the rights of the accused and adhere to international standards of due process in this case,” the spokesman said.

“Recent arrests and trials of those seeking to express their religious or political views are undermining the international goodwill generated by the results of the human rights dialogue,” he added.

The execution sparked a flurry of protests from international rights groups and Tibet activists who said the trial was unfair.

The London-based Free Tibet Campaign said Lobsang Dhondup’s case was the first known execution of a Tibetan for offences linked to political activities in as much as a decade.

Amnesty International said at least 10 other people were reported to have been detained in connection with the case and several had been beaten, tortured or ill-treated by police.

The U.S. spokesman said the embassy would watch their cases closely.

Amnesty said until now, the mostly-Muslim region of Xinjiang in the far west was the only place it had recorded executions of political prisoners in recent years.

Many groups outside China accused the government of taking advantage of the U.S.-led war on terror to crack down on dissent in Xinjiang.

Rights groups say China executes more people each year than all other nations combined, most with a bullet to the head.

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