Sonam Tsephel jailed for third time.
Sonam Tsephel, who writes under the name Gangchenpa Getak, was arrested on 19 February. His location and the reason for his arrest are not currently known.
Sonam Tsephel is originally from Palsho County, Chamdo Prefecture, in the east of the Tibet Autonomous Region. He was first arrested in 2009 and served a sentence of two years in prison for “instigating separatist activities” after spending 9 months in detention before trial.
In 2015, he served 20 days in prison, accused of writing articles against China and keeping speeches by the Dalai Lama along with distributing his image. He was later fined 1500 yuan (approximately US$200) and released. However, he was kept under surveillance and restrictions from the authorities.
Sonam Tsephel’s arrest follows the jailing of writer Shokjang for three years earlier this February. “Separatism” is a vaguely defined crime in China which refers to anything intended to divide China’s territory. In practice, it is used to punish and deter almost any act by Tibetans which the authorities consider disloyal or which too strongly asserts Tibetan identity.
Tibet was recently found by a leading US think tank to be one of the five least free countries in the world.