By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, July 22: Two land rights activists who were jailed in 2019 for their activism were released from a Chinese prison in Qinghai province, Tibetan sources told RFA service. Tashi Tsering and Drukbum Tsering were residents of Horgyal village in Rebgong County; both were released on July 1, a month after completing their sentences.
“The Chinese authorities took them straight to their homes following their release, and local Tibetans were forbidden from making any displays welcoming them on their return,” RFA’s source said. No details of their current health condition is known, although many Tibetans prisoners are known to be released with deteriorating health after their prison sentence. “Even though they have been released from prison, the authorities are continuing to monitor their movements, making their lives difficult by keeping them under surveillance,” the source further added.
The duo along with seven other rights activists were sentenced from three to seven years of prison each by the Tongren County’s People’s Court for maintaining an “illegal organization” which fought for land rights for Tibetans in 2019. Chinese authorities had accused these men of “extortion”, gathering people to disturb “social order” and of “usurping” already formed village committees. These charges by Chinese authorities, exile Tibetans say are vague and punitive in nature to silence dissent among Tibetans.
Four others in the same case were released earlier this year; one of the four group members, Sonam Gyal, was freed in April. The report also suggested that Sonam was in poor health according to sources. “And we still don’t know the names of the others who were freed with him, owing to tight restrictions on information imposed by the Chinese government,” the source remarked. The duo in question had been confined in a large prison cell built in Rebgong a few years ago; their family and friends had been barred from visiting the two when in police custody.