August 13, 2004
A rights group expressed concern that China was stepping up prosecution of Tibetans who return after completing religious studies in India, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.
Some 2,500 Tibetans make the treacherous journey across the Himalayas to India each year and most choose to stay, according to the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India.
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a private group based in Dharamsala, named a number of monks who faced jail time and fines after returning to the Chinese-administered territory.
In one example, the group said monks Gedun Tsundue and Jamphel Gyatso had crossed back into Tibet in February this year after studying in India and were detained for four months and fined 4,500 yuan (545 dollars) each.
The rights group accused China of violating international norms respecting the rights of citizens to travel.
China has in the past branded Tibetans leaving the territory not as refugees but as illegal emigrants, as they travel without authorisation.
Rights groups say returnees to Tibet have long faced major problems finding employment as they are viewed as under the influence of the Dalai Lama, who China considers a separatist.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, who fled into exile in 1959 and won the Nobel Peace Prize 30 years later, says he accepts that Tibet is part of China and is seeking greater rights and autonomy for the Buddhist region.