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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Repression in Tibet Risks Exacerbating Ethnic Tensions

November 12, 2007

BBSNews November 9, 2007 -- New York (HRW) Chinese authorities should
immediately release Ronggyal Adrak, a Tibetan nomad who publicly called
for religious freedoms and a visit to Tibet by the Dalai Lama, Human
Rights Watch said today. The People's Court in Dartsedo (Chinese:
Kangding, Ganzi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan province) found Adrak
guilty of subversion and "inciting separatism" on October 29.

Adrak's sentence, which is expected later this week, could range from
three years to life imprisonment.

"Once again, the Chinese government is persecuting a Tibetan for having
the courage to call for the return of the Dalai Lama," said Brad Adams,
Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "This is the sign of an emerging
power that oddly lacks confidence. This kind of repression also risks
exacerbating ethnic tensions in the run-up to the Olympics."

Adrak was arrested on August 1 at a horse festival in Lithang, Kardze
(Chinese: Ganzi), Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province.
Authorities arrested him after he went on stage during a public awards
ceremony and expressed support for the Dalai Lama, who has lived in
exile since 1959. He also called for the release of both the Panchen
Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima and Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, a highly respected
Tibetan lama who is currently serving out a life sentence on charges of
separatism on allegations of involvement, widely regarded as unfounded,
in a bombing. According to an official statement released on August 3,
Adrak was charged with "inciting separatism."

In the aftermath of Adrak's detention, a few hundred Tibetans
demonstrated in Lithang to show their support for him. Images released
by the International Campaign for Tibet depict Chinese soldiers and
police in full riot gear moving into Lithang to suppress the demonstration.

During Adrak's trial, the presiding judge described Adrak's crimes as
"very severe," and said that by calling for the Dalai Lama to return,
Adrak had "committed the crime of subverting the People's Republic of
China." Inciting separatism is a state security crime in China, and it
carries a minimum sentence of five years. The court also held him
responsible for instigating the local protests that followed his arrest.

Since China's annexation of Tibet in 1951, Tibetans have systematically
been denied fundamental human rights, including participation in public
affairs, the freedoms of speech, assembly and religion, and the rights
guaranteed to ethnic minorities under Chinese law and international
standards. However, the Chinese authorities themselves have called for a
visit to Tibet by the Dalai Lama since the mid-1980s, though the two
sides are involved in inconclusive talks over the conditions imposed.

Adrak's speech led the Chinese government to initiate a campaign
requiring local Tibetan monks and some laypeople in the area to publicly
denounce the Dalai Lama, and at the same time many senior Tibetan
officials were replaced by ethnic Chinese, apparently on suspicion of
harboring loyalties to Tibet's exiled spiritual leader. A leaked report
from the Chinese Communist Party's Commission for Discipline Inspection
of the Tibet Autonomous Region to Radio Free Asia in September 2007
indicated that Tibetan officials could not be trusted because a number
of them were "suckling at the breast of the Chinese Communist Party,
while calling the Dalai Lama mother," implying that some Tibetans were
simply using the Party while secretly following the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese government has also imposed restrictions on free expression
for Tibetan children. In September, seven Tibetan middle-school students
were detained in Labrang (Chinese: Xiahe) Gansu province for writing
pro-Dalai Lama slogans on walls. At least two of the boys were badly
beaten and all showed signs of bruising when released. Four remained in
custody for almost two months. They were finally allowed to return to
their homes in late October, after large bribes were paid to local
officials, but are reportedly confined to their villages, required to
check in with the local police station every week, and have not been
permitted to return to school.

"The Chinese government promised the United States and others an
'extreme response' for its award to the Dalai Lama, and indeed
constantly tries to portray Tibetans with any loyalties to the Dalai
Lama as 'extremists,'" said Adams. "But the only extremes at issue here
are the imprisonment of people -- including children -- for peacefully
expressing their views."

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