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In the past few days, five Tibetans were given lengthy prison sentences ranging from 3 -10 years’ imprisonment term by the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court in Dartsedo (Ch: Kangding), Kardze “Tibet Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’) Sichuan Province on charges ranging from “endangering state security to disrupting public order and other crimes”, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) from reliable sources.

According to sources, “On 29 October 2008, Kardze Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Sherab Sangpo, a 26-year old monk of Dongthog Monastery in Kardze County to 6 years’ imprisonment on charges of ‘endangering state security’ for his act of raising the handwritten banned Tibetan national flag during 26 March 2008 protest in Kardze.” The source added that Sherab Sangpo was arrested by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials from the site of the demonstration on 26 March and was led to an undisclosed location until his court trial on 29 October. He was taken to the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court in Dartsedo at around 8:30 AM (Beijing standard time) and the court verdict was declared around the noon by judges. On the same day, another Tibetan, Loga from Kardze was given 3 years’ jail term by the same court for his participation in the March protest in Kardze. There is no information on whether Sherab Sangpo and Loga were allowed personal attorney to defend their cases in the court or not.

On the next day on 30 October 2008, another two other Tibetans: Ngoega, 53-year-old from Serchu Village and Norbu Tsering, 49-year-old from Drukhang Village, Kardze County, Sichuan Province, were handed down with 8 and 9 years’ imprisonment term respectively by the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court on charges of “endangering state security” for their participation in a political demonstration on 18 March at the county headquarters, the sources informed.

According to the source, “Both Ngoega and Norbu Tsering were brought to the Court at around 9:00 AM with around 20 people gathered for the court verdict. Apart from an assigned Tibetan translator, rest were mostly Chinese.” The sources explain that Ngoega retorted the judges’ verdict by saying, “we did not commit any crimes of destroying or burning public properties rather we were involved only in distributing pamphlets on Tibetan cause. For that act I suffered torture, inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of security personnel that I regain my body sensation only days after my transferred to the prison.”

Outside the court premise, severe restrictions were imposed with heavy presence of security guards during the entire proceeding and the court gave its verdict at around noon and it was informed that no opportunity was given to defenders to question the court verdict. According to source, Norbu Tsering, who was arrested on 18 March was held incommunicado and there was no information on his whereabouts until his court trial on 30 October at Dartsedo.

Although the Kardze Intermediate People’s Court in accordance with the Chinese Criminal Law granted defendants a right to appeal within ten days of sentence, however, success of such appeals are almost non-existent especially of those involved in political ‘crime’. Moreover, Ngoega’s family members were denied the opportunity to put forward their case on his behalf during his detention and felt it would be futile attempt to re-appeal the court.

The same court sentenced the fifth person who is known to be from Sertha County, Kardze “TAP” and whose identity could not be ascertained at the moment to 10 years’ imprisonment term on 28 October 2008. The Centre will update as and when upon receiving more details.

The Vice-Chairman of the regional government of “TAR”, Baema Cewang, in a remark during a meeting with visiting members of the Australian house of representatives on 4 November 2008, has said that 55 Tibetans have been handed down with sentence ranging from three to life for their involvement in the ‘March 14 riot’ in the Tibetan Capital.

There are hundreds of Tibetans who are still held without any charges and at least 105 Tibetans were known to have been sentenced so far in “TAR” and Tibetan areas outside the “TAR” for their participation in the series of protests across the Tibetan plateau since March this year.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) strongly condemns the indictment of five Tibetans, as their freedom to expression and opinion did not violate any of the constitutional components of Chinese law. The Centre also expresses it deepest concern and condemns the authorities’ use of torture on the detainees who were held incommunicado for a long period of time and questions the transparency of the legal proceeding as trials were held behind the closed door with heavy security presence.