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China denying family visit for falsely jailed philanthropic Tibetan businessman

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan19’23) – A popular Tibetan businessman arrested in 2008 for engaging in “secessionist” activities but eventually given life-sentence on trumped up charges of loan fraud is not being allowed any family visit by the Chinese government, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jan 18. His sister and brother – both older than him – have been detained or told to apologise for seeking justice for him through protests and online video postings.

Dorjee Tashi, 48, a member of the Communist Party of China, was arrested in Jul 2008 after mass protests hit much of the Tibetan Plateau, leading to a brutal armed crackdown in which thousands were killed, arrested, or otherwise left unaccounted for. He has been held in Drapchi Prison, officially known as Tibet Prison No. 1, located near Tibet’s capital Lhasa, and the region’s largest.

He was stated to have owned a luxury hotel chain and real estate companies in Tibet before his arrest, and was popular for his philanthropic activities in the areas of poverty alleviation and economic development in the region.

After the large-scale, unprecedented protests in Mar 2008, Dorjee Tashi was branded a “secessionist”, accused of giving covert support to the Tibetan protesters and for having political connections with the Tibetan community in exile, which he denied. These charges were later dropped after the authorities found a way to falsely indict him for loan fraud, and jailed him for life.

The authorities were stated to have denied him even virtual meetings with his close relatives, citing Covid-19 restrictions. When his elder sister Gonpo Kyi (Gontey), staged a protest, calling for his release, outside a courthouse in Lhasa on Dec 19, security guards took her into custody, the report said.

And when his elder brother Dorjee Tseten went to appeal again on Jan 6 for a visit, local authorities have accused him of ruining the reputation of Drapchi Prison and demanded that he post an apology video online.

This was on account of the fact that he had posted videos online of himself pleading with the authorities to allow relatives to visit his jailed brother, including the video of a protest he had staged in front of the prison.

“My younger brother is suffering from a severe illness in the prison, and we have requested the associated authorities to examine his health and provide him proper medical treatment, but there has been no response from the authorities, and therefore, we request those leaders to treat everyone equally,” the report quoted him as saying in the video.

He has also said, “We believe that denying his family members to visit him and not informing us of his health condition goes against the country’s law and is a violation of basic human rights.”

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