Tibet: Chinese Police Imprisoned, Tortured and Sentenced Family Members
In less than a year, Chinese police arrested, tortured and sentenced to prison or to "re-education-through-labour" three brothers and three cousins from the same Tibetan family. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (Tchrd) has highlighted the an unwarranted personal vendetta by local police officers against six members of the Samdrup family from a village in Gonja County, Chamdo Prefecture, in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The first to be arrested are Jigme Namgyal and Rinchen Samdrup, who ran an environmental NGO. The two brothers accused members of the local police of illegally hunting endangered animals. On 7 August 2009 they were arrested.
In November Jigme was sentenced to 21 months of "re-education-through-labour" on charges of "damaging social stability" for collecting environmental information and sharing it with the "Dalai clique".
On July 3, 2010, after almost a year after his arrest, Rinchen Samdrup was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of "inciting division of the country" for having published an article about the Dalai Lama on his website.
On January 3, 2010 Karma Samdrup, brother of the two arrested, was taken into custody by Chinese police on charges of "profiteering" for having bought some goods in Xinjiang in 1998. The arrest came after Karma had visited his brothers in prison and spoke up in their defence. Moreover, Karma, a successful businessman, had a license to trade in manufactured goods.
After being beaten and tortured for six months, Karma was sentenced June 24 to 15 years in prison and his political rights were revoked for five years. Human rights activists argue that the trial was a farce and that Karma’s rights have been violated. Karma was not allowed to see his lawyer until 30 minutes before the trial. "The court completely ignored the facts, trampled on the legal system and violated Karma’s human rights" said his lawyer Pu Zhigiang.
The brothers’ three cousins were also arrested. Sonam Choephel, after having organized a petition in defence of Rinchen Samdrup in Beijing, was sentenced to eighteen months of "re-education-through-labour."
In March, Rinchen Dorje, a Buddhist monk, was arrested on the basis of vague accusations and his whereabouts is still unknown.
On July 5, a sixth Samdrup family member, Tashi Topgyal, was arrested in Lhasa where he was looking for information on Rinchen Dorje. It seems that has been taken to hospital, covered in burns which Chinese police say were inflicted by electric shock punishment imposed for trying to escape.
Some analysts believe that the central government in Beijing is not responsible for ongoing persecution, but rather the vendetta of local officials.