News and Views on Tibet

Imprisoned businessman’s family in Lhasa campaign for his release

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Dorjee Tashi before his arrest in 2008 (Photo/ICT)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Oct. 21: The family of the high-profile Tibetan businessman Dorjee Tashi, whose deteriorating health in Drapchi prison last year concerned Tibetans in exile, has made allegations against the Chinese authorities of being complicit in his unjust sentence. His brother Dorjee Tseten published an open letter in the ‘Rights Network Group’ in September, accusing powerful leaders of framing his younger brother. Likewise, his sister Gonpo Kyi staged a sit-in protests at the People’s court in Lhasa since June demanding justice for her brother.”

The family has now resorted to advocacy for their brother Tashi, who was once the owner of the famous Yak Hotel in Lhasa. In the open letter, the brother alleged the officials were complicit in turning a “civil dispute case into a criminal case.” The rights group International Campaign for Tibet uploaded a footage of Gonpo Kyi’s protest in front of people’s court along with her online plea for justice, “If I don’t have the right to say that my family member is innocent and that all borrowers are loan frauds, then I want a signed statement [saying so]. If the statement is issued, I will stop coming to the gate of the People’s Court that day onwards. Please! I told them that I hope that a law that exists in China is effectuated upon us.”

Dorjee Tashi was held in detention since 2008 but was put on trial in 2010 at the Lhasa People’s Intermediate Court where he was sentenced to life in prison. Considered one of the wealthiest Tibetan businessmen, Tashi was detained after the 2008 protests on the suspicion of making donations to exile Tibetans as a cover for his alleged covert support for the Tibetan movement.

Despite his outstanding entrepreneurial achievements in Tibet, there was no change in his sentence even after scores of appeals were made by his lawyers. The first appeal was made by his lawyer in 2013 at the Lhasa court, which did not receive a response for 6 years, and was later rejected in Nov 2019. Another appeal was filed the next month, which enabled Dorjee’s lawyer Wang Fei to meet his client at Lhasa prison in January 2020.

The Tibetan businessman was once awarded the “Outstanding Private Business Award”, Shigatse Prefecture’s “Poverty Alleviation Special Contribution Award”, Gansu Provincial Committee and provincial government’s “Contribution to the Public Economy Development of Gannan Award” for Gannan Prefecture. He was also given the Communist Youth League Committee’s “Youth Civilization” individual achievement award, which is given every ten years.

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