News and Views on Tibet

China sentences Tibetan student leader to four years in jail

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DHARAMSHALA, June 13: A Chinese court has sentenced a Tibetan student leader to four years in prison in connection with a major students’ protest that erupted in Rebkong region of eastern Tibet last year.

Wangchuk Dorjee, a student of the Middle School of Nationalities in Malho was sentenced for allegedly leading the peaceful protest by a court in eastern Tibet.

Citing a source in the area, US based Radio Free Asia said Dorjee was sentenced for his role as one of the “main organisers” of the Tibetan students’ protest.

According to the same source, Dorjee was subjected to “harsh interrogation” following his detention. However, details of Dorjee’s date of sentencing and his current whereabouts are not known.

On November 9, last year, thousands of Tibetan school students in the Rebkong region carried out a peaceful street protest raising slogans for freedom in Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s return and rights of the Tibetan people.

The students carried out their protest in front of major Chinese government offices.

Students from all the schools in the four districts in the region – Thunring, Chentsa, Tsekhog, Yulgan, and Rebkong had joined in the demonstrations.

The protests took place in the midst of an unprecedented wave of self-immolation protests that had gripped the entire region. In November last year, as many as 28 Tibetans set themselves on fire demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.

The students’ protest in Rebkong also coincided with the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party that was held in Beijing.

Less than three weeks after the Rebkong students’ protests, another demonstration against the Chinese government involving over a thousand Tibetan students took place in Chabcha on 26 November. Students of the Chabcha Sorig Lobling School had raised slogans calling for freedom, equality of nationalities, freedom of language, respect for truth, and re-establishment of governance.

Chinese armed forces cracked down heavily to break up the demonstration, injuring many young protesters and hospitalizing around 20 students.

The protest in Chabcha had taken place after local Chinese authorities distributed a ten-point political questionnaire to the students, critical of the self-immolation protests in Tibet and gave “patriotic education” sessions that contained disparaging remarks against His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Earlier this month, China’s representative at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s 23rd regular session termed the students’ protest in Chabcha as an “illegal” act requiring prior permission according to Chinese law.

The Chinese representative further added that any form of demonstration perceived as harmful to the interests of the state, society or community by the Chinese authority will not be permitted.

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