By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 30: Chinese authorities have reportedly sentenced a university student named Nyima this month for contacting Tibetans in exile, according to a latest report by Radio Free Asia. The student at Sichuan’s Gehoe National University was arrested in January on charges of espionage. “[He] was sentenced on June 5 to three years in prison for allegedly disseminating state secrets, but the Chinese authorities have shared no details of what kind of state secrets Nyima has exposed,” a reliable source cited by RFA from inside cited by Tibet stated.
Nyima is a resident of Shelian Township in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the so-called Sichuan province. Prior to the arrest, in addition to his studies on Tibetan culture, he worked with tourists and visitors as he was fluent in Tibetan, Chinese and English languages. The source also said that his knowledge of Tibet’s history and his contact with outsiders made him susceptible to such an accusation, “He could be seen sharing Tibet’s history and authentic Tibetan culture with the tourists, so I think that may be the reason for his arrest.” Nyima’s family has no idea of his condition and where he is imprisoned at the moment.
In a similar incident, in June 2020, a Tibetan woman named Lhamo and her cousin, Tenzin Tharpa were arrested on charges of having sent money to family members or other Tibetans in India. Lhamo from Tibet’s Driru County in Nagchu died in custody in August that year, which enraged activist groups in exile and led to demonstration for accountability in her case, and immediate release of Tharpa. “[She] was arrested on June 6 on charges for colluding with her cousin [Tharpa] for sending money to India, and also for sheltering her cousin at her home for a few days. Following her arrest, the local police searched her home and confiscated a picture of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and religious books and DVDs of the Tibetan leader,” Kunchok Rinchen from Banglore had told Phayul earlier.
Tibetan intellectuals, language advocates, teachers and students have increasingly become targets of arbitrary detention under blanket charges such as “inciting separatism”, “illegal activities” and “espionage”. However, observers say that such unchallenged practices by China are rooted in discrimination against Tibetans and aimed at stifling any voice of dissent inside occupied Tibet.