By Tsering Dhundup
DHARAMSHALA, Sept 28: Tsultrim, a resident of Tsaruma Township in the so-called Chongchi County in eastern Tibet, has reportedly been sentenced to two years in prison after a secret trial conducted by the Intermediate People’s Court of Ngaba County. His conviction is tied to his possession of photographs of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, H.H the Dalai Lama on his smartphone.
According to research group Tibet Watch, the series of events began on March 3, 2023, when authorities arrived at Tsultrim’s residence in the Ngaba Autonomous Prefecture in eastern Tibet. After a month-long period of questioning, Tsultrim was presented before the court, resulting in a two-year prison sentence. His sentencing was based on allegations of “contact with separatists outside Tibet”, a charge that has been previously employed to suppress opposition and silence those expressing support for Tibetan identity and nationhood.
This case has drawn attention due to the secrecy surrounding the trial, where neither Tsultrim’s family members nor a legal representative were allowed to be present. Subsequently, his family and close friends were prohibited from visiting him since the verdict. Tsultrim is currently serving his sentence at Ya’an Prison in Kham.
This recent incident follows an earlier encounter with the authorities in July 2022 when Tsultrim was detained by Chongchi County Police. His alleged offence at that time was posting a photograph of the Dalai Lama on the social media app WeChat. Following two months in detention, he was released in September 2022.
China enforces a strict prohibition on the possession and distribution of images of the Dalai Lama in Tibet, and individuals caught in violation of this rule frequently face imprisonment and, in some cases, harsh treatment under charges of “inciting separatism” or related state security offences.