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China jails Tibetan religious leader after secret trial

Khenpo Kartse in a detention center after his arrest in December 2013. (Photo courtesy: RFA)
Khenpo Kartse in a detention center after his arrest in December 2013. (Photo courtesy: RFA)

(TibetanReview.net, Oct19, 2014) – China has given a two-and-half-year jail sentence to a prominent Tibetan Buddhist leader whose unexplained arrest in Dec 2013 from Sichuan’s capital Chengdu had led to large scale protests by local Tibetans and the detention of a number of protesters. Radio Free Asia (Washington) Oct 17 cited a source as saying he was sentenced in a secret trial which likely took place two-three months ago in Chamdo (Changdu) Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Initially accused of unspecified conduct harmful to state security, he was later accused of having harboured a fugitive monk linked to a bombing incident in Chamdo County’s Karma Monastery. The report said his lawyer rejected the charge as being “not compatible with reality.”

Kartse’s family had previously hired lawyer Tang Tianhao for his defence. Tang had travelled four times to Chamdo but was allowed to meet with him only twice and very briefly. He later withdrew from the case under government pressure and the family turned to a local lawyer.

Khenpo Kartse (Karma Tsewang) 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 while on a monastic shopping errand. News of his detention created an uproar in his home county where he was highly respected not just for his religious stature but also for his charity work as well as for his efforts to promote Tibetan language, culture, and religion. Hundreds of monks and laypeople took to the streets to demand his release, leading to 16 of them being held on Dec 21, 2013.

London-based International human rights organization Amnesty International had launched a campaign for the release of Khenpo Kartse and the 16 other Tibetans.

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