Land grab protesters sentenced; torture victim gravely ill

Protesters in Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan
Protesters in Chengdu, provincial capital of Sichuan
14th April 2016

Sentenced for protest over land grab

On 11 April 2016, four Tibetans were sentenced for up to three years in prison in connection with their campaign last year to reclaim land confiscated by the state in Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. They have been given parole, however, and will not serve their sentences in prison.

Rinchen Dorjee, Kirti Yeshi and Phurkho were sentenced to two year terms while Jigshi Kyab was sentenced to three years.

In 2010, authorities confiscated the land of around 20 families of Thangkor Village No 2 in Dzoege County, claiming it would be used in a rural development project. However, no work began and authorities leased it out to private individuals. After local authorities repeatedly ignored their appeals, in January 2015, local Tibetans staged a protest outside a provincial government meeting in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province (which is outside Tibet). Following their protest, the local government threatened them with imprisonment if they appealed to higher authorities again.

In April 2015, Jigshi Kyab went into hiding after police came to his home and a fight broke out. He was later arrested. In September 2015, a dozen Tibetans were detained in Thangkor town for re-occupying confiscated land. This week's sentencing follows those arrests.

Tibetan land confiscated

The taking of Tibetan land is a recurring source of grievance and protest in Tibet. Millions of nomads have been removed from their land by China, supposedly for their economic benefit and to protect the grasslands. In reality, nomads in urban environments have difficulty competing for jobs and face social and economic exclusion, while their land is often opened for commercial exploitation such as mining or damming.

Political prisoner Yeshi Choedon
Political prisoner Yeshi Choedon

Yeshi Choedon, who is serving a 15 year prison sentence on poltical charges, was taken to a hospital in Lhasa in March this year and is reportedly seriously ill.

57 year old Yeshi Choedon was arrested in March 2008 following the national uprising in Tibet and sentenced to 15 year in prison by the Lhasa Intermediate People's Court for allegedly participating in the protests and 'providing intellegence to the Dalai Clique's security department' . A retired clinic worker, she was one of a group of Tibetans tried and sentenced in Lhasa at that time, including Wangdu, who received a life sentence for a similar offence.

Yeshi Choedon is said to be in critical condition due to torture and lack of health-care in prison. She is unable to stand properly on her feet and needs a wheelchair to support her. Her family members are not allowed to visit her in hospital in Lhasa and police have been stationed to watch her. 

Tibetan political prisoners and torture victims are often denied appropriate medical care in prison. Last year, high profile prisoner Tenzin Delek Rinpoche died in highly suspicious circumstances and deaths in custody or very shortly after release are common.

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