Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tibetans convicted for sending information abroad

Since the unrest in Tibet in March 2008, as many as 50 Tibetans have been arrested for sending reports, photos or videos abroad, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a report on Monday. In some cases, those arrests resulted in long jail sentences, it said.

The latest conviction, the group said. Involved a netizen called “Dasher” who received a 10-year prison sentence on charges of “separatism” for sending reports and photos of the protests.

“The repression has never stopped since the March 2008 uprising in the Tibetan regions,” RSF said. “This persecution of Tibetans who take risks to send evidence of the human situation abroad is a tragic illustration of the state of exception that reigns in Tibet. We call for their immediate release.”

Dasher, who was arrested on March 13, 2008, was convicted and sentenced by an intermediate court in Lhasa late last month, meaning that two years had elapsed between his detention and trial. The exact date of his trial is not known. He is being held in Lhasa’s Chushur prison, the group said.

RSF’s claims that at least 50 Tibetans have been arrested for sending information out of China have been verified by the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. Most of the material was sent via Internet, which is closely monitored by Chinese authorities, RSF said.

Another detainee, Tashi, is a 24-year-old Tibetan from Rata, eastern Tibet, who was arrested in the middle of last month. A Tibetan from the same village told RSF he was accused of “having contact with people abroad and watching political videos online.” He is being held in Nagchu district.

In Sog, Gyaltsing was sentenced to three years in prison in December on charges of “communicating information to contacts outside China” after downloading pictures of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. While he is allowed to receive family visits, he is interrogated every week and is often given beatings, RSF said.

Tibetan journalists allege that a re-education campaign in Sog has resulted in the arrest of several Tibetans who refused to comply with the “Love your religion, love your country” campaign, RSF said.

Asked for comment, Taiwan Friends of Tibet chairwoman Chow Mei-li (周美里) told the Taipei Times last night that this shows that the situation in Tibet remains critical.

“The Chinese Internet police monitors content. Now we know they go further — by sentencing. This is a violation of human rights,” she said.

“As cross-strait relations become closer,” Chow said, “the Taiwanese government should use every opportunity to protest such activities by the Chinese government.”

For all we know, Taiwanese citizens and their Internet use could also be monitored.

Asked if the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration was likely to criticize Beijing for the repression unveiled on the RSF report, Chow said “it probably won’t.”

A shorter version of this article appeared today in the Taipei Times.

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