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China claims only 76 sentenced for Mar 14’08 Lhasa ‘riots’

(TibetanReview.net, Mar 09, 2009) — China said Mar 6 that it had sentenced only 76 people for the Lhasa protests of Mar 14, 2008 and released the rest of the 953 arrested. The exile Tibetan government and groups, however, maintain that many more had been arrested and sentenced, with many having disappeared or killed.

Only 76 of the 953 people detained for their involvement in last year’s Lhasa riot received prison sentences, and the rest have all been released, reported China’s official China Daily newspaper Mar 7. Those who were convicted received sentences ranging from less than five years to life, it cited Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the autonomous region’s government, as telling reporters at a panel discussion during the ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.

The report cited Puncog as saying most of those jailed were found guilty of theft, robbery, arson, disrupting public services or attacking government agencies, with only a few being convicted for “endangering national security”.

The exile Tibetan government and non-government groups have maintained, however, that the numbers of those arrested and sentenced were far higher, with many being killed and thousands disappearing after the brutal military crackdown. In particular, the IANS news agency Mar 6 cited Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy as saying the uprising in Tibet in 2008 saw at least 120 being killed in police firing, at least 6,500 arrests, over a thousand cases of involuntary or enforced disappearance, at least ten known cases of death due to torture, and at least 190 varying prison terms.

China has so far acknowledged only one killing, which occurred in Qinghai Province in a dawn raid on a nomadic tent, while claiming that alleged rioters killed 19 people, including a policeman, in Lhasa on Mar 14, 2008.

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