August 21, 2006

Tibet: China Detains Teenage Girl for Writing Pro-Independence Leaflets

Authorities in the Tibetan region of Karze in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have detained a 16-year-old girl in connection with a crackdown on pro-independence leafleting last month, Tibetan sources said
Authorities in the Tibetan region of Karze (Ganzi, in Chinese) in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have detained a 16-year-old girl in connection with a crackdown on pro-independence leafleting last month, Tibetan sources said.

"Recently, Karze police arrested Yiwang, a 16-year-old Tibetan girl for her involvement in the leaflet campaign for Tibetan independence in June this year," a Tibetan source in India told RFA.

That information was later confirmed independently by a source inside Tibet.

"She was arrested as the main suspect for actually writing the leaflets. She was from the Shen Nyen district of Karze town. Her father is Tsewang Rinzin."

Before her arrest, Yiwang was studying at Karze Middle School. Born in 1990, she studied at the primary school of Lopa Township, graduated from Karze Tsezur School, and was studying at Karze Middle School at the time of her arrest.

Family members had hoped her involvement in the pro-independence leafleting campaign, for which five Tibetans have already been detained, would be overlooked owing to her youth.

But a court notice for her trial and sentencing had already been issued, the source said, along with the five others arrested in June: Kayi Doega, 59, Yiga, 28, Jhampa Yangtso, 21, Sonam Choezom, 25, and Sonam Lhamo 30.

An official on duty at the Karze Public Security Bureau said he didn't know about the arrest. "You should contact more senior officials," the officer said. But the more senior officials had gone to a horse race, he added.

The other five Tibetans detained earlier were: Kayi Doega, previously jailed for offering prayers for Tibet¹s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama; his eldest daughter Yiga, a former nun; Sonam Lhamo, currently a nun at the influential Getse nunnery; and two other women, identified only as Sonam Choetso and Jampa Yangtso.

Yiga, Sonam Choetso, and Jampa Yangtso were detained in early June in Lhasa, the Tibetan regional capital, for allegedly handing out leaflets from a van promoting Tibetan independence to lunchtime crowds in Karze prefecture.

All five are natives of Karze, a traditionally Tibetan area administered by China¹s Sichuan province.

The Dalai Lama fled Lhasa in 1959 after an unsuccessful revolt against Chinese rule. He leads the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India, but Beijing has ruled him out of Tibet¹s future.

Images, writings, and video of the Dalai Lama, who is universally revered by Tibetans, are banned in Tibet, and those found in possession of them typically receive prison sentences.