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4 Tibetans sentenced to prison for 2nd time for religious activities

Previously, authorities detained them for 11 months on the same offense.

Map of Sichuan Province created with Datawrapper. [Credit: Radio Free Asia]

RFA Tibetan

November 16, 2023

China has sentenced four Tibetans from Sertar county in Sichuan province to two years in prison each for engaging in religious activities — the second time they have been arrested and given jail time, said two Tibetans with knowledge of the situation.

The four men — Gyalo, Tsedho, Bhamo and Kari, each going by just one name — are being held at Yaknga Prison in Sichuan province, according to the sources.

“In September when they were sentenced to two years in prison, none of their families were informed,” said a Tibetan who lives in exile. “Neither are the families aware that the court has issued this judgment.”

Authorities previously arrested the four men on Aug. 24, 2022, for engaging in religious activities such as sang-sol, a purification or cleansing of spiritual pollution or blockages, and reciting prayers for the longevity and wellbeing of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, said another Tibetan source who lives in exile.

They were detained until July 2023, when they were released, though it is not known why they were freed.

It is not unusual for Chinese authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region and Tibetan-populated areas of western provinces like Sichuan to arrest, detain and abuse Buddhist monks, nuns and others on account of their religious practices, without giving them trials.

There also have been reports of individuals dying in custody after being beaten, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom, issued this May.

Such arrests are part of a larger campaign by the Chinese Communist Party to Sinicize Tibetans by eroding their religion, language and culture, bring them into line with the party’s ideology, and compel them to be loyal to the state, rather than to the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ exiled spiritual and political leader.

At the time of the first arrest, a fifth Tibetan named Chukdhar, 52 was also taken in, but he died in custody after a week or so because of severe beatings and torture by Chinese police, the second source said.

“However, they have been arrested again and now all of them are sentenced to two years in prison,” he said.

The first Tibetan source said Chukdhar’s family accused Serta county police of killing the man by physical torture in the prison, but police denied it.

“The families were also offered 100,000 yuan [US$1,400] by the police station if they collected Chukdhar’s body immediately after he died, but they declined to accept the offer, and were given nothing,” he said.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi for RFA Tibetan. Edited by Roseanne Gerin and Malcolm Foster.

© 2023 Radio Free Asia


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