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Tibetan political detainee gets three years for WeChat critique of China

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(TibetanReview.net, Feb21, 2018) – China has on Jan 10 sentenced a prominent Tibetan political detaineeto a jail term of three years for allegedly ‘inciting separatism’ after holding him incommunicado for more than a year, said Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy Feb 18. The report said Mr Tsegon Gyal, 55, was sentenced by the Tsojang prefecture intermediate people’s court and has since been transferred to Dongchuan prison in Siling (Chinese: Xining), capital of Qinghai Province, to serve his term​.

Tsegon Gyal
Mr Tsegon Gyal. (Photo courtesy: TCHRD)

Tsegon Gyal was tried on May 3 last year, but the court’s verdict was announced only eight months later. None of his parents and relatives had been allowed to observe the trial which took place without any legal representation.

His parents were allowed to meet him for the first time since his detention in Dec 2017 only days before the verdict was announced.

While the precise charges were not clear, the centre believes that Tsegon Gyal was most likely jailed for publishing a blogpost on WeChat in which he criticised the Chinese government for failing to genuinely promote its policy of ‘ethnic unity’.

The centre has noted that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had, at its 78th session in Apr 2017, ruled that the deprivation of liberty of Tsegon Gyal was arbitrary and that there was no legal basis to justify his detention.

The Working Group was also stated to have held that international norms relating to the right to a fair trial as established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the relevant international instruments were not observed and that Tsegon Gyal’s detention “constitutes a violation of international law on the grounds of discrimination based on birth, national, ethnic or social origin, language, religion, economic condition, political or other opinion … or any other status, that aims towards or can result in ignoring the equality of human beings.”

The centre notes that the Working Group had transmitted communication concerning Tsegon Gyal to the government of China on Feb 3, 2017 but had neither received a response by the deadline of Apr 5, 2017 nor a request for a deadline extension.

China accused Tsegon Gyal of ‘inciting separatism’ on Dec 24, 2016, more than two weeks after taking him into detention.

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