(TibetanReview.net, Apr04’16) – Eleven members of the US Congress have on Mar 31 urged Secretary of State John Kerry to take up with the government of China the issue of Tibetan political prisoners, specifically mentioning three of them as of particular concern. The three, all Buddhist monks, have been named as Khenpo Karma Tsewang, Lobsang Kunchok and Thapke Gyatso.
The 11 congress members made their call in a joint letter which read: “We write today to express our deep concern about three Tibetan political prisoners, while noting that there are hundreds of other documented Tibetan political prisoners currently being held in Chinese prisons similarly worthy of our concern and attention. We urge you and others at State Department, the US Embassy in Beijing and the US Consulate in Chengdu to raise their cases with the Chinese government, make every effort to obtain information about their whereabouts and health status, press for necessary medical treatment, and prioritize their release.”
Khenpo Karma Tsewang (or Khenpo Kartse), was the abbot of Jhapa Monastery in Nangchen (Chinese: Nangqian) County of Yulshul (Yushu) Prefecture, Qinghai Province, when he was held and taken away on Dec 6, 2013 by the Chamdo police from Tibet Autonomous Region. The highly respected monk was known for his environmental activism, relief works and commitment to the preservation of Tibetan language. The charges against him were never made public. He was not allowed to be represented by a Chinese lawyer hired by his family and jailed for two and half years after a secret trial.
Lobsang Kunchok was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for having allegedly sent information about a self-immolation protest that had taken place in his local area to Tibetans in exile.
And Thabke Gyatso, a writer, is serving a 15-year jail sentence for having distributed Tibetan national flags during the Tibetan uprising protests of 2008.
Given the reasons for their arrest and imprisonment, the joint letter said: “The imprisonment of these individuals, who have so much to contribute to Tibetan society and who did nothing other than exercise their fundamental human rights is a grave tragedy and injustice. Again, we urge you to prioritize their cases in your discussions with Chinese officials and press for their immediate release.”
The signatories were Micheal E Capuano, Christopher H Smith, James P McGovern, James F Sensenbrenner Jr, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Donald S Beyer Jr, Yvette D Clarke, Mark Pocan, Dana Rohrabacher, Peter Welch and David Rouzer.