December 22, 2008
Tibet: Seven Sentenced to Life Imprisonment
Treason amongst reasons for long sentences given to Tibetans “offering information” to outsiders.
The sentences of indicted range between 8 years to life imprisonment, according to the confirmed information received by the Dharmshala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).According to the report, five Tibetans were sentenced by the Lhasa Intermediate People's Court. The same court sentenced two other Tibetans on 7 November 2008 respectively for their involvement in the "March 14 Riot". The report cited that on 27 October 2008, five Tibetans were sentenced between 8 years to life imprisonment and deprivation of political rights on charges of "endangering state security" to committing crimes of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China. The Lhasa intermediate People's Court convicted and sentenced the following Tibetans to varying prison terms.
Wangdue, in his 40s was sentenced to life imprisonment and deprivation of political right for life on charges of "endangering state security," 2) Migmar Dhondup was convicted on same charge of "endangering state security" and was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment and five years deprivation of political right,3) Phuntsok Dorjee was sentenced to 9 years' imprisonment and five years deprivation of political rights on charges of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China,4) Tsewang Dorjee was sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment and five years deprivation of political rights on charges of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China,5) Sonam Dakpa, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and five years deprivation of political rights on charges of "treason" or illegally offering information to people outside China. Whereas the same court sentenced Yeshi Choedon, in her 50's and retired health worker to 15 years in jail and deprivation of political rights for five years on charges of "endangering state security" and Sonam Tseten was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment with deprivation of political rights for five years on charges of treason or illegally offering information to people outside China.
Wangdue, now in his early 40s, a former political prisoner and HIV/AIDS activist whereabouts remains unknown until his court trial on 7 November 2008. The Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials arbitrarily detained him from his home on 14 March  in Lhasa. The bald comments made earlier by the Chinese official on the number of Tibetans having sentenced so far were devoid of any details about names, charges, jail terms, dates of court trials and other details. Li Boadong, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in a response to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) expert during a hearing told, "After judicial proceedings, 69 had been sentenced to imprisonment for committing crimes of arson, robbery, theft, obstructing government functions, trouble-making in the streets, gathering to disrupt public order or attacking State organs; seven had been sentences for committing crimes of treason or illegally offering information to people outside China, and eight were still under investigation by the judicial organs." The authorities had earlier said no Tibetans had so far been sentenced to death, raising the possibility of such punishment in the future trials.
In the absence of any independent media and monitoring agencies in Tibet, the nature of the court proceedings without legal representation of their choice obviously bring forward the questions of competency of the court. TCHRD expresses its concern at the sub-standard legal proceedings in Chinese occupied Tibet and fears the worst scenarios for the Tibetan protesters who exercised their fundamental human rights of freedom of opinion and expression. The sentencing is a clear mockery of law and due process. The Centre expresses its deepest shock and is outraged by these bogus trials and the harshness of the sentences handed down on those seven Tibetans. We are extremely concerned about the eight Tibetans whom the Chinese official told are being under judicial investigation. Any prison sentence can amount to a death sentence in Tibet where torture and inhumane treatments of political prisoners is well documented. The Centre questions the transparency of the legal proceeding as trials were held behind the closed door and many of the convicted were held incommunicado and disappeared since their arbitrary detention by the law enforcement agencies.