Tibetan activist handed seven year prison sentence

A-Nya Sengdra, left with Lin Qilei, right. 2019. Credit: Lin Qilei
A-Nya Sengdra, left with Lin Qilei, right. 2019. Credit: Lin Qilei
A-Nya Sengdra, left with Lin Qilei, right. 2019. Credit: Lin Qilei
6th December 2019

Tibetan anti-corruption activist A-Nya Sengdra has been given a seven year prison sentence. 

A Tibetan anti-corruption activist has been sentenced to seven years years in prison this morning by a court in Golog Prefecture, Amdo, eastern Tibet, his lawyer has said. 

A-Nya Sengdra, who campaigned in his community against government corruption and environmental damage, was found guilty of  “gathering people to disturb public order” and “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

The trial began yesterday and was concluded this morning (GMT, London time). The activist was in court alongside eight other Tibetans who were also handed prison sentences on similar charges.

A-Nya Sengdra’s legal representative, renowned Chinsese human rights lawyer Lin Qilei said the activist will continue to fight. “A-Nya Sengdra refuses to accept the verdict and appeals!,” Lin Qilei Tweeted today.

A-Nya Sengdra’s brother, Jimitri, was also due to be at the trial today but died after being taken from detention to hospital during late November or early December. The cause of his death is unknown.

A-Nya Sengdra is recognised in his local community for campaigning against illegal mining activities, government corruption, and illegal hunting and poaching of endangered animals. 

Court documents from July said defendant A-Nya Sengdra had established two WeChat groups, each with a membership of over four hundred people and used three other WeChat groups titled “anti-corruption”, ''environmental protection'' and ''people's petitions” to slander and attack the region's political organisation and the speech of its citizens. 

In 2014 he and other Tibetan nomads founded a voluntary organisation called ‘Mang Dhon Ling’ (Public Affairs Forum) to fight against corruption and abuses of power by local Chinese officials.

The government first arrested him in Gade County on 4 September 2018 and after his detention he was beaten and held for the first 48 days without access to a lawyer. His detention period was extended several times since 2018 and he was denied bail.

Charges against A-Nya Sengdra were brought using China’s state security laws. There has been a rise in convictions since February 2018, when authorities across Tibet began to issue notifications calling for a crackdown on “criminal gangs” and “underworld forces”. 

Provincial and county authorities have used these campaigns to crack down on what it considers “separatism,” disloyalty to the state and criminal activity. 

The three-year nationwide crackdown was launched by Beijing in January 2018. In 2018, 360 people were found guilty of crimes related to “criminal gangs” in the Tibet Autonomous Region alone, Chinese state media said

A-Nya Sengdra has a wife and at least one child.

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In Tibet the Chinese Communist Party oversees what some have called the world's largest open air prison. The authorities have the power to switch the light on and off, peering into Tibetans' emails one moment and making political prisoners vanish from their families and friends, apparently into darkness, the next. Help us push for Tibet's hidden political prisoners to be found and released.