Draconian sentences for Tibetan protesters

China's government intensifies persecutions in Tibet:

23 Tibetans received draconian sentences for participating in a peaceful demonstration against China's rule in Tibet. The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticizes that most of the protesters will now face between 10 and 13 years in prison, while one of them is supposed to be imprisoned for life. "These measures are totally disproportionate", said the STP's Asia-consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Wednesday. "The Tibetans only made use of their right to freedom of expression. What's more, the court sentences – which were issued last week but have not become know until now – aren't even the result of a fair trial."

During the demonstration in the area of Drango (Tibetan settlement area of Kardze, Sichuan province) on January 23, 2012, security forces had opened fire on the protesters – even though the demonstration had been peaceful at first – killing two Tibetans and wounding 34 more. Based on surveillance cameras, the authorities identified many more demonstrators during the following weeks and arrested more than 100 of them.

On April 26, 16 of the arrested people were sentenced to long prison terms by a court in Sichuan. Some of the convicts are Buddhist monks. The 30-year-old Sonam Lhundup is supposed to serve a life sentence, the 20-year-old Kuntho will be imprisoned for 13 years, Jewo will be locked up for twelve years and and the 30-year-old Kundrup for eleven years. Wangchen Tsering is supposed to be imprisoned for nine years.

In a second trial, seven more Tibetans were judged: Sonam Dhargyal was sentenced to five years in prison, Pema Woesel to ten years. The other five defendants are supposed to serve prison sentences ranging from ten to thirteen years.

The whereabouts of at least four of the Tibetans who were arrested since the end of January 2012 are completely unknown. For example, there is no trace of the 41-year-old teacher Geshe Tsewang Namgyal and the 40-year-old Tibetan Lama Tulku Losang Tenzin Rinpoche.

There are new arrests of Tibetans or invasions of monasteries in the region of Kardze almost every day. The monastery School of Drango – which once had around 140 pupils – was closed down temporarily and may now only be visited by 40 pupils.