GENEVA: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion has been apprised of the Chinese authorities’ crackdown on Tibetan intellectuals in Tibet.
At least 24 Tibetans intellectuals, including monks, men and women, have been given sentences ranging from few months to life imprisonment for excising their freedom of expression. The Chinese authorities especially targeted Tibetan writers, bloggers, singers, teachers, documentary makers and environmentalists under a crackdown policy since 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s representative in Geneva, Mr Tseten Samdup, yesterday (2 August) submitted a detailed profile of 64 Tibetan intellectuals to the UN Special Rapporteur and urged for necessary inquiry into their cases including information on court proceedings, access to family members etc.
These new generation of young Tibetans born and educated under Chinese Communist rule have edited banned magazines and are tech-savvy bloggers imprisoned for gathering, expressing and sharing information about conditions in Tibet especially after the March 2008 demonstrations across Tibet.
Their writing challenged the official account of the events of 2008 and situation in Tibet in general. The crackdown on Tibetan artists and intellectuals are the harshest since the Cultural Revolution.
Strict restrictions have been placed on photocopying and printing documents.
A public health worker, 41-year-old Wangdu was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2008 for sending e-mail to the outside world. He worked on an HIV/AIDS prevention project for the Australian Burnet medical research institute in Lhasa.
81-years-old Paljor Norbu, a Tibetan traditional printer master was arrested on 31 October 2008 and sentenced in a secret trial to seven years in prison. His family ran printing business for generations publishing Buddhist texts for monasteries in the Barkhor area in Lhasa.
12 intellectuals were released on fear of custodial death after excessive torture during detention by the Chinese authorities. Due to the severity of the torture some have become physically and mentally dependent on their family members.
The whereabouts of about 37 intellectuals are unknown. There are great concerns for their health. Family members have been intimidated and denied visits to prisons. Four school teachers were expelled and one demoted. A writer and comedian escaped into exile.
On 12 June, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, in her address to the European Parliament on the situation in Tibet said, “Over the last three years, an increasing number of Tibetan intellectuals and cultural figures have faced criminal charges or been imprisoned. The EU is worried by restrictions on expressions of Tibetan identity and freedom of expression in Tibet.”
She said that EU was concerned by the deterioration of the situation in Tibet, as illustrated by the wave of self-immolations and by clashes between the police and the local population since the beginning of the year.