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Tibetan writer-photographer sentenced

Kunga Tsayang
Kunga Tsayang

Kunga Tsayang, a Tibetan writer-photographer arrested on 17 March 2009 has been sentenced last week to five years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets, according to information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). He was arrested on alleged charges of posting political essays on Tibet on a website name as Jottings (Tib: Zin-dris) in Gansu Province.

According to source, in a closed door trial on 12 November 2009, Kunga Tsayang was sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Kanlho Intermediate People’s Court in Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Gansu Province. An earlier report by a Tibetan human rights watchdog had cited a sentencing of Kunchok Tsephel, a Tibetan official and founder of Tibetan literary website Chomei (Tib: butter Lamp), to 15 year?s in jail on charge of disclosing state secret by the same court on 12 November 2009.

Kunga Tsayang, a monk of Amdo Labrang Tashikyil Monastery, who wrote under a pen name “sun of snowland” (Tib: Gang-Nyi) was an amateur photographer, a passionate writer, essayist, chronicler of the new Tibetan generation. He hailed from Chigdril County, Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Qinghai Province.

An avid traveler, Kunga had traveled widely in Tibet and photographed the environmental degradation taking place on the Tibetan plateau and its impact on the people. His travelogues dealt on the special characteristic features of Tibetan topographical landscapes, culture, customs, habits and religious heritage. Kunga Tsayang had also worked at Nyenpo Yutsae Kyekham environmental protection group. He is the author of several brave and compelling essays on Tibet including, “Who Is the Real Splittist?” “Who Is the Real Disturber of Stability?” and “Who Is The Real Instigator of Protests?”

The Chinese authorities over the years have targeted, detained and sentenced Tibetan writers, bloggers and publishers who did not engage in overt protest activity, but who sought to explore and express Tibetan views on issues that affect Tibetan people?s rights, culture, religion and Tibet’s fragile environment.

He was under the close watch of the Chinese authorities in Labrang County, Gansu province following major protests that gripped the region last year. Unfortunately, on the fateful day of 17 March 2009, he was arrested during a midnight raid at his living room. His family and close associates had no idea where he was detained since his arrest in March this year until he was brought to the court hearing last week.

TCHRD expresses its serious concern over the secretive and closed nature of trial under which Kunga Tsayang and Kunchok Tsephel were tried and sentenced. TCHRD urges the Chinese government to honour the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people.

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