By Tenzin Dharpo
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 24: Ahead of the second trial of persecuted Tibetan anti-corruption activist, rights group International Tibet Network has called on China to “right a flagrant injustice” and grant “a free and fair” second trial for imprisoned Tibetan nomad and community leader Anya Sengdra.
Sengdra who has campaigned against government corruption and environmental destruction caused by illegal mining activities and endangered animal poaching, was sentenced on 6 December 2019 on the charges of “gathering people to disturb public order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
“A-Nya’s activities are essential actions in these times of acute environment crisis – instead of being criminalized he should be celebrated as a local hero,” said Lobsang Yangtso from International Tibet Network. “Activists around the world are working to protect the environment and ensure that they land that they live on will be fit for future generations. Living under China’s occupation has meant A-Nya’s environmental protection work has lead to him being classed as a criminal rather than an environment justice hero,” she further said.
The group said that Sengdra’s conviction and many like him, fits a wider pattern of harassment of Tibetan activists and environmental defenders, as these grassroots elements collide directly against China’s reckless and often deadly exploitation of the Tibetan plateau for its natural resources.
Anya Sengdra was detained on 4 September 2018 from the highway intersection in Golok by PSB officers and taken to the PSB detention centre in Drotsang County, Tsoshar Prefecture.
According to Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, ‘Provoking trouble’, of which Sengdra was charged with, is a vaguely worded offence under Article 293 of Chinese Criminal Law that has been increasingly used in recent years particularly since Xi Jinping’s presidency to persecute and launch reprisals against human rights defenders and other activists critical of government policies and practices.
“Criminalising Mr Sengdra’s heroic campaigns against corruption only exposes the hollowness and hypocrisy of the current Chinese leadership’s so-called war on corruption, said Tsering Tsomo, executive director of TCHRD earlier said.
Trials and court proceedings in China and particularly occupied Tibet is known to be largely for the optics and are labelled to be sham by international watchdogs including the Human Rights Watch. Tibetans who voice concerns against repressive Chinese polices are targeted, framed into vague charges and sentenced to prison terms to quell dissent in occupied Tibet by China.