A day after protest broke out in Lhasa city on 14 March 2008, it spread to the adjacent Phenpo County, in the east of Lhasa city. On 15 March 2008, thousands from Tibetans of all walks of life protested in Phenpo Lhundup County.
The Chinese government responded the protesters with harsh crackdown and during which many Tibetans were killed, arrested, tortured and awarded harsh sentences ranging from three-year prison term to life imprisonment. The Chinese government has been consistent with their in-disproportionate crackdown on peaceful Tibetan protesters, followed by indiscriminate arrests, unlawful detentions and awarding harsh sentences.
According to reliable information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), on 1 April 2008, a Tibetan farmer died after being subject to brutal torture by the Chinese prison guards. The deceased farmer was identified as Dawa, a 31 year-old farmer from Dedrong Village, Jangkha Township, Phenpo Lhundup County, Lhasa City, “TAR”. He was arrested while participating in a peaceful protest in Phenpo County on 15 March 2008.
Multiple sources say that during two weeks of detention in prison, he was subjected to torture by the Chinese prison guards. When it became evident that his health was failing, the Chinese prison authorities quickly released him on 27 March 2008 for medical treatment. At the time of the release, his health was already in a very critical condition. After spending four days in hospital, he died on 1April 2008.
Adding insult to the injury, the Chinese authorities charged the deseased’s family with a fine of 1000 yuan (US $ 125) for causing destruction to public property and bringing damages to economy.
Sources also told TCHRD that many Tibetans were killed during the harsh crackdown in Phenpo County on 15 March 2008. One of such confirmed information was Jinpa, a 23 years old Tibetan farmer shot dead by the Chinese security forces. He hailed from Jangkha Township, Phenpo Lhundup County, Lhasa City, “TAR”. He died of bullet wounds on 15 March 2008 in Phenpo County during the protest.
On 29 April 2008, China handed down sentences to 30 Tibetans ranging from three to life imprisonment in a closed trial. The trial was already overshadowed by political campaigns against what China called “Dalai Clique” and “separatist forces”.
On 28 April 2008, Lhasa People’s Intermediate Court sentenced Yeshe, a 35 year-old Tibetan from Phenpo Lhundup County to 12 years prison term on two accounts of “crimes”. He was awarded 7 years of imprisonment for “storming and charging at the government offices” and another 5 years imprisonment for “inciting unrest”. In all he has to serve a 12 years of prison sentence and a deprivation of political rights for 2 years.
In what has appeared to be a political witch hunt, the Chinese authorities issued harsh rhetoric on numerous occasions. For instance, the “Tibet Autonomous Region” (“TAR”) Communist Party and Government officials called for a swift and quick judicial process to strike back at the “separatists” and the “Dalai clique”. During a conference of “TAR” court officials in the evening of 2 April 2008, “TAR” government Vice-Chairman, Pema Thinley, urged “the usage of law as a tool to strike back at the enemies”. He called for a “swift and quick judicial proceedings” for those involved in the March protest. Jampa Phuntsok, during his briefing at the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China on 9 April told reporters “953 have been arrested out of which 328 have been released where as 403 will be carried forward for sentencing by the court.”
The Chinese authorities are currently implementing a major “Patriotic Education” campaign drive in Phenpo County which commenced on 24 March 2008. The “Patriotic Education” this time is permeating almost every sections of society beginning primarily with the monastic institutions, party cadres, security forces and government employees, farmers and private entrepreneurs, educational institutions and common people, to denounce the Dalai Lama and the “splittist forces” in the coming months. As a consequence, many fundamental human rights of Tibetan people are taken by the whim and fancy of the ruling authorities for what they called “safeguarding national security” and “achieving unification”.
The fundamental human rights of Tibetan people are grossly violated and bullied upon by the Chinese authorities. Sensing the urgency of the situation, TCHRD calls upon international bodies and various concerned organs of UN to pressure the Chinese government to immediately put an end to intimidation, harassment, torture and unfair imprisonment of peaceful Tibetan protesters inside Tibet. TCHRD expresses serious concern over the fate of many Tibetans who received ‘unfair’ trials, who are undergoing torture and maltreatment in the Chinese administered prisons across the country.