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Rights group urges octogenarian Tibetan master-printer’s release

(TibetanReview.net, Dec 6) — New York-based Human Rights Watch is urging the international community to protest China’s imprisonment and secret sentencing of Paljor Norbu, an 81-year-old Tibetan traditional printer, and to seek his immediate exoneration and unconditional release. It said Norbu (Chinese: Panjue Ruobu), was taken by the police from his home in Lhasa on Oct 31, 2008, on suspicion that he had printed “prohibited material,” including the banned Tibetan flag.

Norbu was tried in secret in November and sentenced to seven years in prison. His family was hand-delivered a letter informing of the sentence, but no visit or contact was allowed and his current whereabouts remain unknown.

On the basis of the initial accusations and the length of the sentence, the group speculates that Norbu was tried for “inciting separatism”.

Norbu is a descendant of family with a long history of printing and publishing Buddhist texts for monasteries. The internationally renowned master printer used both modern and traditional woodblock printing techniques in his workshop, employing several dozen workers. In addition to religious texts, the shop printed prayer flags, folk reproductions, books, leaflets, and traditional literature. The authorities have now closed down his shop and confiscated books and woodblocks.

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