Two men from China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region were sentenced to 10 years in prison in a secret trial after refusing to fly Chinese flags from their home in contravention of a government order. The two men, leaders of their community in Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture, were detained by Chinese authorities Nov. 24 after refusing to display the Chinese flag from their homes. Around 1,000 Tibetans from the area were involved in the protest last year against orders to fly the Chinese flag, according to local and exiled sources. However, authorities focused on the two men who were village leaders in Mukhyim, Driru County.
The two men were sentenced Jan. 14, but the present location and condition of the two men is unknown, even to their families.
Recently, another Mukhyim man, Trigyal, was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but no details are known about his trial or the charges that had been imposed on him.
The campaign by the Chinese to impose the flying of the national flag from homes in Tibet was begun last September. About 1,000 Driru-area Tibetans have since been detained in the crackdown that followed the refusal to obey this order, according to sources. In October, villagers threw the flags into a river, which resulted in authorities intensifying their crackdown. Chinese police fired into crowds of unarmed Tibetans, reportedly.
In another region of Chinese Tibet, authorities arrested three Tibetans last week–two for allegedly sharing text messages regarding events that had taken place in Tibet, and one local monk who was seized from a monastery at the same location–Sog County, Nagchu Prefecture. The monk was detained as a person of interest by police following up on a crime involving the painting of independence slogans near a local bridge.
Also last week, two Tibetans were released from lengthy jail terms.
A monk was released from a 15-year jail term and returned to his home in Sog. The monk, named Tsering Lhagon, had been arrested in the year 2000 after calling for Tibetan independence. Lhagon and four other monks and a layman were detained on charges of “harming national security” and “spreading negative propaganda” after printing and distributing leaflets they had made from a hand-carved wooden block. The leaflets also called for the return of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet. All six received lengthy jail sentences. Two have been released in poor health and have died.
April 2, Tsedak Gonpo, a Tibetan man arrested six years ago for leading protests in his hometown of Meruma, Ngaba County, Ngaba Prefecture. Gonpo had been arrested in 2008 during a crackdown on anti-Chinese protests, six days after the March 16 protest that marks the beginning of a trend of strong Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule. On March 16, the anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan Uprising that was defeated by a superior Chinese military force, around 10 protesters were killed when Chinese police opened fire.
Gonpo returned to a hero’s welcome in his village. Locals had begun making preparations weeks before his return, and when he arrived, several lines of vehicles were waiting on the roadsides, and the village monks, nuns and others adorned him with scarves and threw paper flags in the air.
By Day Blakely Donaldson