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China imposes two-year jail sentences on two Tibetan student magazine editors

Protest: Tibetan women stand in a circle with their mouths gagged as a crowd of delegates to women's NGO Forum voice their support, 01 September 1995 in Huairou at a protest to mark the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese controlled Tibet Autonomous Region. Nine Tibetan women all foreign passport holders, held the protest to bring attention to what they call Chinese oppression in their homeland.Photo: Getty Images / Daylife

Two-year jail sentences have been imposed on Sonam Rinchen and Sonam Dhondup, two students who helped to edit the Tibetan student magazine Namchak. Two other editors of the magazine, who were arrested at the same time as them in March, are still awaiting trial, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

Their conviction has coincided with other cases of repression. For example, the Tibetan writer Kalsang Tsultrim, also known by the pen-name of Gyitsang Takmig, was arrested on July 7 in Dzoge, in Sichuan province. According to relatives cited by Tibetan sources in the Indian city of Dharamsala, his arrest was prompted by his book Miyul La Phul Ve Sempa (Share My Heart's Inner Thoughts) and recordings of his speeches voicing his concerns for the Tibetans that have been distributed on CDs.

The lack of independent observers in Tibet allows the Chinese authorities to arrest and convict Tibetan journalists, writers, bloggers and environmentalists without any form of due process, RSF said. The government prevents the foreign media from working in Tibet so that there are no witnesses.

When the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China recently polled its members, 98 per cent said it was impossible to cover the situation in Tibet properly because of obstruction by the authorities.

Arrested on March 17, the four Tibetan students who edited Namchak were charged with separatism and inciting separatism in their writing. Sonam Rinchen, 19, and Sonam Dhondup, 18, were registered as students at the University of Barkham (in Sichuan province), as were the other two, who have been identified as Yargay and Dakden. Kanyak Tsering, an exiled Tibetan monk, told RSF that they had published comments about China's policies towards minorities, including Tibetans.

Tibetan writer Tragyal, also known by the pen-name of Shogdung, has meanwhile been held in harsh conditions since April in Xining detention centre, in Qinghai province, where his family has not yet been allowed to see him. His lawyer says the police are dragging their feet and have not passed the case to prosecutors. In a book titled The Line between Heaven and Earth, Tragyal called for peaceful resistance by the Tibetan people. As a result, he has been accused of inciting separatism.

Before his arrest, Tragyal said, “I am, of course, terrified by the idea that, once this essay is published, I will have to endure every kind of hell this planet has to offer. I could lose my head because of my mouth, but this is the road I have chosen.”

Date posted: August 31, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 227