Yeshi Gyatso Sentenced to Six Years
Dharamsala, 2 December: As the Tibetans and their supporters mark the first anniversary of the unprecedented death sentence passed on Tenzin Delek Rinpoche (aka Ahnga Tashi) on this day last year, reports have emerged from Tibet that Yeshi Gyatso has been sentenced to 6 years. According to sources, Yeshi Gyatso was sentenced either in October or November during a trial by the Lhasa city’s “People’s Intermediate Court”, but there has been no confirmation from the Chinese authorities.
Yeshi Gyatso, a member of the Lhasa city’s “People’s Political Consultative Conference”, was arrested from his home in Lhasa on 16 June this year over suspected involvement in political activities. Two other Tibetans, Dawa Tashi and Buchung, students at the Tibet University in Lhasa city were also arrested during the crackdown in Lhasa by the Chinese authorities.
In August this year, the Chinese authorities confirmed to foreign journalists visiting Tibet that they had detained Yeshi Gyatso and other Tibetans. In response to questions by a correspondent of the Associated Press, the Vice Mayor of Lhasa City, while confirming the detention of Yeshi Gyatso, alleged that Yeshi Gyatso has engaged in “separatist” activities violating the law of the People’s Republic of China. The Vice Mayor further told the correspondent that Dawa Tashi (aged 23) was released after one month’s detention but provided no information on the status of Buchung.
Yeshi Gyatso, earlier detained in 1959 for 10 years at Drapchi Prison, had spent another 10 years at Sangyip Prison’s “labour through re-education” Unit Five. Yeshi Gyatso who is around 70 years of age today, was a civil servant of pre-1959 Tibet, with the rank of “drung-khor”.
Popularly known as Kyamtoe Yeshi Gyatso , he was also known as Tingshar Yeshi Gyatso after his first marriage to Sonam from the Tingshar family who lived in Banak Shol area of Lhasa.
Despite the news about Yeshi Gyatso’s conviction, the Chinese authorities have failed to clearly specify the charges over which he was sentenced. This raises another concern over the independence of the judiciary in the present-day People’s Republic of China. Before his sentencing Yeshi Gyatso was detained at Gutsa Prison. However, there is no clear information about where he is held today.
On 27 June 2003, reacting to the arrest of Yeshi Gyatso, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa of the Central Tibetan Administration, urged “the Chinese authorities to release the three Tibetans who were arrested in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in the morning of 16 June.” Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche also urged “the Chinese authorities to ensure that the three Tibetans are given a free and fair trial and that they are not mistreated while under police custody.”