Two young Tibetans, identified as Gyaltsing and Nyima Wangdu, have just been given three-year jail sentences for posting photos of the Dalai Lama online. The exact date of their conviction is not known but it is believed to have been three or four days ago. They were convicted on charges of “communicating information to contacts outside China.”
They have been detained in Lhassa since 1 October. Their families, who have not been able to visit them in prison or obtain any information about them, are concerned for their health.
Three other Internet users, identified as Yeshi Namkha, Anne (a pseudonym) and Thupten, were arrested for similar reasons on 1 December but have not yet been tried. It is not known where they are being held.
“All these young Tibetan Internet users did was exchange photos of Tibet’s spiritual leader,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call for their immediate release and the withdrawal of all the charges. These convictions are absurd. These young people should not be made to pay for the tension between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama.”
22.10.2009 - More Tibetans arrested in connection with Internet activities
Reporters Without Borders calls for the release of three young Tibetans from the village of Dara who have been held in Nagchu county since 1 October, when they were arrested in nearby Sogdzong county for allegedly sending information about Tibet to contacts abroad via the Internet.
The police have not allowed the three – identified as Gyaltsing, 25, Nymia Wangchuk, 24, and Yeshi Namkha, 25 – to have any contact with their families since their arrest.
“The Internet is monitored, censored and manipulated more in Tibet than in other Chinese provinces,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Despite the risks, Tibetan Internet users continue to transmit information, especially to the diaspora and human rights groups. It is deplorable that the Chinese police devote so much energy to identifying and arresting ordinary Internet users.”
The three young people allegedly used QQ, a Chinese instant messaging service, to send photos of the Dalai Lama and speeches by him. It appears that the Bureau of Public Security had been monitoring their online activities for some time. The population of Sogdzong country complain of police harassment, including frequent ID checks.
The monks in Sog Tsandan monastery, for example, were forced by the police to attend patriotic meetings with the authorities and were forbidden to observe their end-of-summer retreat (in which they stay within the monastery to avoid harming the insects that emerge at that time of the year).
Several bloggers and other Internet users have been arrested in Tibet in recent months. They include Pasang Norbu, arrested in Lhasa on 12 August for looking at online photos of the Tibetan flag and Dalai Lama, and Gonpo Tserang, a guide sentenced to three years in prison in June on charges of inciting separatism and “communicating outside the country” for sending emails and SMS messages about the March 2008 protests in Tibet.
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