China - Tibetans given harsh prison sentences for sending photos abroad



    MONTREAL, Nov. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage
at harsh prison sentences for "espionage" of three to ten years handed down
yesterday to three Tibetans by the intermediate court in Kardze, Sichuan
province on the Tibetan border.
    The three, who had sent abroad photos of demonstrations held at the
beginning of August by nomadic Tibetans, were charged with "espionage on
behalf of foreign organisations, putting state security in danger".
    Adak Lupoe, a senior monk at Lithang monastry and Kunkhyen, a musician
and teacher, were sentenced to ten and nine years respectively for taking
photos and recordings of the demonstrations following the horse festival on
1st August.
    Under the Chinese justice system the fact of sending pictures to "foreign
organisations" constitutes a "threat to national security". Jarib Lothog was
sentenced to three years in prison for helping send the photos.
    Some shots of the demonstrations were used by media run by the Tibetan
community in exile and by human rights organisations. Tibetans in the region
have reported that since the 'incident', described by the state-run Xinhua
news agency as a "laying siege to government buildings", tension has increased
in the Lithang area and Chinese military reinforcements have been sent to the
region.
    "These very harsh sentences demonstrate the risks run by ordinary Tibetan
citizens when they try to send information aboard, a step which is similar to
citizen journalism," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
    Runggye Adak was given an eight-year jail sentence on the same day before
the same court for being the "instigator of the 1st August rally". He was
found guilty of "separatist activism" after giving a speech supporting the
Dalai Lama's return to Tibet.
    "It is striking that an organiser of the demonstrations was given a
lesser sentence than those who took the photographs," Reporters Without
Borders said. "This shows the regime's paranoia towards those who produce
evidence of disputes within China, Tibet and Xinjiang. We call for the verdict
to be quashed and the Tibetans released," said the organisation.
    Photos of the events in question are available on the website of the
International Campaign for Tibet:
http://www.savetibet.org/news/newsitem.php?id=1160




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Directrice générale, Reporters
Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514) 521-7771,
rsfcanada@rsf.org

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