Published By Bureau Reporter
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Images of some of the 80 Tibetan Buddhist monks and others who were sentenced to long prison terms including life in prison and the death penalty pre and post-2008. Photo obtained from HRW

Dharamshala: A leading international rights organization, Human Rights Watch, has urged the Chinese government to “immediately release Tibetan monks and other peaceful critics arbitrarily imprisoned since the March 2008 protests across the Tibetan plateau”. In a report released on their website, Human Rights Watch listed more than 80 Tibetans who have been incriminated and sentenced to long-term imprisonment by the Chinese authorities. “Tibetans who did nothing more than call peacefully for their human rights to be respected have been unjustly sentenced to long prison terms,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch said in the report.

Of the cases detailed by Human Rights Watch, the majority are Tibetans who have been arrested and sentenced in connection with the 2008 pan-Tibet peaceful protests, while 10 others were sentenced in connection to Tibetan self-immolation protests. It is evident that these Tibetan political prisoners were imprisoned under dubious or trumped-up charges by Chinese courts such as “endangering state security”, “separatism” and “leaking state secrets”. The list of cases includes human rights defenders, prominent environmentalist, religious figures, monks, and professionals amongst others, with an average sentence term of roughly 13 years, excluding life sentences (15) and death sentences (7).

After the initial reporting of the Tibetans’ arbitrary arrests and sentencing, in most cases, no further information has been available, especially about their well-being, current location, or health condition. Moreover, families have been denied information about the whereabouts of their imprisoned family members or to contact them. Human Rights Watch states, “There are serious concerns for the health of many of these prisoners, due to severe physical abuse and denial of medical care in custody. Several are reported to have undergone emergency medical treatment while serving their sentences.” The concern is well-founded. In less than a month’s time, between mid-April and beginning of this month, three former political prisoners and torture-survivors in Tibet passed away. The three Tibetans, Yeshi Gyatso, Pema Wangchen and Lekshey Thupten, were all subjected to torture when imprisoned which led to the deterioration of health even after their release, leading to their deaths eventually.

Hundreds of Tibetans continue to be arbitrarily detained, unjustly jailed and mistreated in prisons for merely exercising their freedom of expression, and demanding the Chinese authorities of their rights and freedom in Tibet. Link to the pictures of 80 political prisoners serving long sentences.

– Filed by UN, EU and Human Rights Desk, DIIR


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