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Tibetan religious leader secretly sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail

October 20, 2014

Radio Free Asia, October 17, 2014 - Popular Tibetan religious teacher Khenpo Kartse has been handed a two-and-a-half-year prison term in a secret trial in Tibet after being held in detention for nearly a year, according to a Tibetan source.

The trial was held “two to three months ago in a local court in Chamdo [in Chinese, Changdu] prefecture,” the source told RFA's Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kartse — who holds the title “Khenpo,” denoting a senior religious teacher or abbot — was taken into custody on Dec. 6, 2013, in Chengdu, the capital of nearby Sichuan province, and was charged at first with “harming state security.”

He was later specifically accused of harboring a fugitive monk — linked to a bombing incident — from Chamdo’s Karma monastery at his own Japa monastery in Nangchen (Nanqian) county in Qinghai province’s Yulshul (Yushu) prefecture.

It was on this amended charge that Kartse was convicted and sentenced, the source said. His lawyer rejected the charge as “not compatible with reality.”

Lawyer Tang Tianhao, hired by Kartse’s family to defend him, traveled four times to Chamdo “but was allowed to meet with him only twice, and then only for a short time,” the source said.

Tang later withdrew from the case under government pressure, and the family then turned to a local attorney for support, the source said.

Health problems

Health problems for which Kartse had sought regular medical attention before he was detained went untreated in custody, and sources close to the case said in March that the well-respected monk was being held in “an extremely cold room with no access to sunlight” and was inadequately fed.

Appeals by his lawyers and supporters for his better treatment or release were regularly rejected by Chamdo authorities, sources said.

Thousands of angry Tibetans gathered at his Japa monastery earlier this year to appeal to religious authorities to push for his  release. More than a dozen monks from the monastery were also detained briefly for protesting against his detention.

Kartse, who is also known as Karma Tsewang, is popular among Tibetans for his work to promote the Tibetan language, culture, and religion.

He was also active in social work in the Yulshul area, including in relief efforts following a devastating April 2010 earthquake.

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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