Geneva: Five UN independent experts have expressed concern and questioned China over charges brought against nine Tibetans who were imprisoned for participating in the celebration of the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2015, and advocating for cultural and religious rights.
The Intermediate Peoples’ Court in Barkham, Ngaba Tibetan area incorporated into China’s Sichuan province has sentenced nine Tibetans for varying person terms ranging from five to fourteen years in December 2016.
Expressing deep “regret” over China’s response towards “what appears to be a cultural and religious expression by the nine Tibetans”, the experts voiced concern over “frequent application of article 103 (2) of the Chinese Criminal Law on “incitement to separatism” to suppress freedom of expression, religion, assembly and association and the cultural rights of the Tibetan minority”. Furthermore, eight areas of concern, including application of due process, detention condition and information about charges and place of detention to the family members of imprisoned Tibetans, were raised in the joined communication to China.
The UN mandate on Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief transmitted the communication to China.
The experts have asked China to clarify and provide detailed information on the following nine Tibetans who were unjustly imprisoned.
- Drugdra (also known as Dukda or Drukdra), a senior Kirti monastery monk sentenced to 14 years in prison on 6 December 2016. He was 50 years old at the time of pronouncing prison term. He is believed to be imprisoned in Mianyang prison near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province.
- Lobsang Khedrup, a monk from Kirti monastery was sentenced to 13 years in prison in December 2016, at age 44. His whereabouts are unknown since he was arrested in December 2015.
- Lobsang Gephel, a monk from Kirti monastery was sentenced to 12 years in prison at age 29. The exact whereabouts of Gephel are unknown. Reports imply he might be serving in a labour camp in Mianyang prison.
- Lodro, a monk from Kirti monastery was sentenced to imprisonment for nine years at age 41. He was arrested on 18 November. His whereabouts are unknown.
- Ta’re Kyi, a Tibetan woman was sentenced to eight years in prison for organizing the celebration of the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and offering help to families of self-immolators. She is reportedly held at Mianyang prison in Sichuan.
- Bonkho Kyi, also known as Wonkho Kyi, whereabouts remained unknown since she was arrested on 20 November 2015. No information is available on charges against her.
- Trotsik Tsultrim, a former monk of Trotsik monastery, was arrested in October 2016. He was sentenced to six years in prison. His whereabouts are reportedly unknown.
- Tsultrim, a former Kirti monastery monk, was sentenced to six years in prison at age 32. He was arrested on 18 November 2015.
- Akyakya, a former monk of Kirti monastery, was sentenced to five years in prison at age 35. His whereabouts remained unknown.
All nine Tibetans had previously been jailed for varying person terms for participating in protests, and some for allegedly “inciting separatism”.
A copy of UN joint communication to China is available here.
-Filed by Tibet Bureau, Geneva