The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) expresses its deepest shock and condemnation over swift and extremely harsh sentence to Ronggye A’drak and three other Tibetans by Kardze Intermediate People’s Court today.
Ronggye A’drak, who was earlier indicted by the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court on 29 October 2007 on four counts of ‘crimes’ ranging from disruption of law and order to state subversion was sentence to eight years of imprisonment with deprivation of political rights for four years, A’druk Lopoe to ten years; Kunkhen to nine years and Lothok to three years imprisonment respectively by the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court today, according to the confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
According to the source, on 29 October 2007, a handcuffed Ronggye A’drak who was earlier brought to Kardze Intermediate People’s Court, for the court indictment was today sentenced to eight years of imprisonment and deprivation of political rights for four years on charges of “inciting to split the country to undermine the country unity,” and “severely disrupting the public order”. Whereas Adruk Lopoe, a nephew of Ronggye A’drak received the heaviest sentence of ten years’ imprisonment on charges of “colluding with foreign separatist force to split the country and distributing political pamphlets.” Kunkhen, an artiste who was arbitrarily arrested on 22 August by the Lithang County PSB officials for unknown reason was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment on charges of “carrying out splittist activities,” and Lothok was given three years imprisonment by the same court. There has been no information on their physical condition and where they were taken after the court verdict was delivered.
Ronggye A’drak, 52 year old and a father of 11 children was arrested after his peaceful solo demonstration on 1 August 2007 at the annual Lithang horse race festival in Kardze, “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’) in Sichuan province. In the aftermath of A’drak’s detention by the Lithang Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers, hundreds of local Tibetans and nomads in Lithang and surrounding areas protest at Lithang PSB Detention Centre to show their solidarity for A’drak and called for his immediate release before being dispersed. Several days after A’drak’s arrest, and the subsequent protest by the Tibetan supporters were dispersed by large number of military forces in their full combat gear using tear-gas and firing guns into the air.
“On the evening of 21 August 2007, a large number of Lithang PSB and PAP forces suddenly stormed into A’drak’s native village, Yonru Kharshul Village, Lithang County, Kardze “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (TAP), Sichuan Province and arrested few of his nephews. It was confirmed by the source that the Lithang PSB and PAP forces first stormed into the house of A’drak and enquired about Adruk Lopoe, a monk of Lithang Monastery who has been leading the call for A’drak’s release. Finding Adruk Lopoe absent at his house, the PSB officers and PAP forces arbitrarily detained two of his brothers, Adruk Gyatso and Adruk Nyima and took them forcibly to the local PSB Detention Centre. The PSB officers and PAP forces ransacked their entire house looking for any evidence that they could charge them with.”
According to the source, “Adruk Lopoe, 45 year old monk, on learning about the arrest of his two brothers went to Lithang County PSB Office after few hours and told the officer that “I am the person you are looking for and demanded the release of his two brothers. However, the PSB officers without complying his demand also arrested him”. Adruk Nyima and Adruk Gyatso were released after six hours of detention. A’druk Lopoe is a very strong proponent of the need of education for the youth and a leading advocate against deforestation, lumbering and wildlife hunting in his native Kardze.
In the aftermath of the protest by and arrest of Ronggye A’drak, the Chinese authorities launched massive “Patriotic Education” Campaign across Lithang County’s monastic institutions and even to village communities where few Tibetans who openly challenged the authorities were arrested.
The TCHRD questions the integrity of Chinese judicial court that sentenced Tibetan nomads with a lengthy prison terms for peacefully exercising basic human rights peacefully and expressing the wishes of Tibetans inside Tibet in a most peaceful manner. The sentence passed by the Kardze Intermediate people’s court is one of the swiftest, spanning only about three and a half months, definitely indicates that the whole judicial process has been summary and arbitrary in nature.
The TCHRD strongly condemns the sentencing of Ronggye A’drak and the three other Tibetans as their freedom to opinion and expression does not violate any of the constitutional components of Chinese law. TCHRD is gravely concerned for the fate of Ronggye A’drak, Adruk Lopoe, Kunkhen and Lothok and would like to seek immediate intervention by the governments and the international community. Since their activities constitute nothing more than an expression of their opinion, thought and exercise of their basic human rights peacefully, TCHRD calls upon the Chinese authorities to release them unconditionally.
In the light of the prevalence of summary trials and sentencing in Chinese court, TCHRD urges Chinese authorities to give Ronggye A’drak and the others a fair re-trial with adequate legal representation and also to follow all domestic and international legal norms.