China: Tibetan writer imprisoned amid new wave of repression

A Tibetan writer was sentenced to four years in prison last month after helping edit a publication critical of Chinese policy in the restive region, the UK-based International Campaign for Tibet said July 1. Tashi Rabten, an editor of banned journal Eastern Snow Mountain (Shar Dungri), was sentenced on June 2 by a court in Aba prefecture, a largely ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province. The literary magazine was suppressed after running a series of essays on the unrest and repression in Tibet in 2008. Copies of the journal were among books seized and burnt by security personnel at a school in the Ngaba area in April of this year. (Reuters, July 2; International Campaign for Tibet, July 1)

The move comes amid a new wave of repression in China’s Tibetan regions. Dozens of Tibetans have been imprisoned following protests at Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) county (part of Sichuan’s Tibet Autonomous Prefecture), the International Campaign reports. At least 30 Tibetans, including some senior monks, nuns and laypersons, have been detained in recent days in at least 15 separate peaceful demonstrations, calling for the release of local religious teachers, and for the Dalai Lama to return home. The latest protest was made by two teenage girls June 26, who were both immediately detained. The father of one of the girls and brother of the other are in prison following the protests of 2008 in the region, according to Voice of Tibet in Oslo, Norway.

The demonstrations took place during the holiest month of the Tibetan calendar, Saga Dawa, marking the anniversary of the Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment. During this period it is believed that good deeds and prayers are multiplied, which may have been a motivating factor for the Tibetans who demonstrated. (International Campaign for Tibet, June 22)

The renewed repression in the Tibetan region also comes as Amnesty International says the Chinese government has unleashed a “series of measures intended to rein in the legal profession and suppress lawyers pursuing human rights cases.” Amnesty’s new report, “Against the Law: Crackdown on China’s Human Rights Lawyers Deepens,” details how state efforts to control lawyers have intensified over the last two years —and particularly in recent months. “Human rights lawyers are subject to escalating silencing tactics—from suspension or revoking of licences, to harassment, enforced disappearance or even torture,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific deputy director.

Government fears of a “Jasmine Revolution” inspired by the Arab Spring have led to the detention of scores of government critics, activists and netizens since February, Amnesty says. (Amnesty International, June 30)

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