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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibetans vow worldwide protests to condemn death sentences

April 17, 2009

Tibetan activist groups have declared April 17,
2009, as "Global Action Day" to condemn recent
death sentences passed on Tibetans
By Phurbu Thinley
Phayul
April 15, 2009

Dharamsala, April 15 -- Several Tibetan NGOs
grouped under the Tibetan People’s Uprising
Movement (TPUM) Tuesday vowed massive worldwide
protests to condemn recent death sentences passed on Tibetans by Chinese court.

A Chinese court last week handed down death
sentences to Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak for their
alleged involvement in starting deadly fires in
last year's anti-China unrest in Tibet. Two other
people- Tenzin Phuntsok and Kangtsuk were given
suspended death sentences with two-year reprieve,
while another Dawa Sangpo was sentenced to life imprisonment.

It was the first report of death sentences given
out for last year’s unrest in Tibet that led to
the most sustained uprising against Chinese rule in decades.

At a joint press conference here today, the
Tibetan Women’s Association, National Democratic
Party of Tibet, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet and
Students for a Free Tibet (India), declared April
17 as a "global day of action" to highlight what
they believe was "unjust trials" of the five Tibetans.

The groups said there would be signature
campaigns and demonstrations, including protests
at respective Chinese embassies, in various parts of the world.

The four NGOs based in Dharamsala urged Tibetans
and supporters around the world to take part in
the global action campaign and, urged individuals
and groups to write appeal letters to
international bodies, governments and Chinese authorities.

"Tibetan NGOs would like to appeal all the
freedom loving people of the world to kindly
consider engaging with the Chinese authorities on
these sentences and express grave concern that
international judicial standards have not been
upheld in the trial process," the groups said in their joint press release.

The NGOs also urged the Supreme People’s Court,
which usually reviews all the death sentences
before being carried out, to repeal the death
sentences and insisted that Chinese authorities
should give "free and fair trials" to them
according to the international judicial standards.

A signature campaign urging Wu Aiying, China’s
Minister of Justice, to review the sentences on
the five Tibetans is also under way. In the
letter to the Minister, the NGOs demanded all
cases related to last year’s events in Tibet be
suspended until a full and independent inquiry
into those events is held. The appeal letter also
urged the Chinese minister to provide a full list
of the names and whereabouts of Tibetans held
under detention following the unrest.

The NGOs have also sent appeal letters to several
rights groups, including Amnesty international
and Human Rights Watch, asking for their help in
the campaign to ensure fair and proper trial for the five Tibetans.

In their joint press release, the NGOs also
called on the Chinese authorities to respect
human rights and to allow all the detained
Tibetans to independently choose their own lawyers.

China insisted that latest close-door trials had
been open and fair according to Chinese law, and
that the accused were defended by lawyers and
provided with Tibetan interpreters.

Following the March 2008 protests, several
lawyers from the Mainland China who offered to
represent Tibetan detainees were, however,
reportedly threatened by Chinese authorities not
to help Tibetans or else they might lose their registration to practice law.

"Political prisoners were never given free and
fair trial in Tibet. These sentences are part of
widespread and violent campaign by the Chinese
authorities to punish and silence any Tibetan who
dare to speak out against Chinese rule," says
Ngawang Woebar, the president of Guchusum ex-political prisoners' movement.

Tibetan Government-in-Exile last week said those
sentenced had not received a fair trial and
warned of even greater resentment among Tibetans.

Chinese State News Agency Xinhua last week
reported that another arson case is still under trial in Tibet.

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