Monday, August 15, 2005

China Jails Tibetans for Carrying HHDL Tapes

(Indo-Asian News Service, August 13, 2005)
Dharamsala -- Three Tibetans were sentenced to jail by a Chinese court on charges of "instigation to split the country", for carrying Tibetan leader-in-exile Dalai Lama's pictures, along with his preaching in audio and video tapes, into Tibet.

The men -- two of them in their forties and a youth of 22 -- had crossed over from Nepal into Tibet on June 28, 2001, and were arrested for carrying the tapes, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said here Saturday in this Himalayan town, home to the Tibetan government-in-exile.

The court sentenced Jigme, the youth, to two years' imprisonment and two years' deprivation of political rights. The two older men were each sentenced to four-year jail terms.

One of them, a monk named AkuTennam, was accused of possessing a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, TCHRD sources said.

"They accused us of carrying photos of the Dalai Lama and other documents which they said could harm socialism and damage the unity of the people," Jigme, an ethnic Tibetan from the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu reportedly said.

Jigme also reportedly said that Chinese officials told him Tibetans were allowed to practice their religion, but carrying material relating to the Dalai Lama into Tibet was a "political crime".

Sources said that the young man had undertaken the trip carrying the tapes for his aging parents, because many older Tibetans cannot read but are very keen to listen to His Holiness' teachings.