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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?"

TCHRD condemns China sentencing of three Tibetans

April 22, 2009

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) expresses its
shock and dismay over the harsh sentences passed on three Tibetans by
the Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People’s Court.

According to official Chinese mouthpiece, Xinhua, dated 21 April 2009,
the Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People’s Court sentenced one man to
death with a two-year reprieve and two others to long jail terms for
setting fire that killed six people in Lhasa riot last year. Penkyi, of
Sakya County, Shigatse Prefecture(Ch: Xigaze) “Tibet Autonomous Region”
(‘TAR’) was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, whereas Penkyi,
23, from Nyemo County (Ch: Nimo Xian), Lhasa Municipality, “TAR” was
sentenced to life imprisonment and Chime, 20, from Namling County (Ch:
Nanmulin xian), Shigatse Prefecture, “TAR” was sentenced to 10 years in
prison. The three were sentenced by the Chinese court on alleged charges
of arson, setting fire to clothing stores last year during the Lhasa unrest.

The Centre is seriously concerned about the fairness of the legal
procedures according to international standards for fair trial and the
treatment of the detainees who were held for more than a year in custody
prior to their court sentencing. The secretive nature of the court trial
and sentencing without providing any detail information on defendants,
their argument, date of court trial and sentencing are particularly
worrisome. Such secretive nature of the court trial procedure raises
many questions on fairness, transparency, effectiveness and independence
of judiciary which is cornerstone for ensuring justice. The Centre
reaffirms that the right to a fair trial is a basic human rights and it
is one of the universally applicable principles recognized in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and still the cornerstone
of the international human rights system.

While the official mouthpiece, Xinhua, report states that trials had
been open and strictly abided by the Criminal Procedural Law of the
People’s Republic of China (PRC) and provided with Tibetan interpreters
for the defendants during the trial, however, the rights of defendants
to be represented by the lawyer of their choice was ignored by the
judicial authorities in other earlier cases, due to politicized nature
of the process. Following March 2008 protests, several lawyers from the
Mainland China were threatened to revoke their license if they represent
detainees.

Such political patronage in the judicial trials is evident from the past
experiences. After a series of protests in Tibet last year, Pema
Trinley, Executive Vice Governor of “TAR,” who was also a Deputy
Secretary, Standing Committee of the ‘TAR’ Communist Party’s Political
and Legal Affairs, call on judiciary bodies to act fast and strike hard
on ‘Dalai clique’ during a meeting on 2 April 2008 in Lhasa. He further
said that stringent legal action should be taken in tune with the Party
policy so that the final verdict would gain political, legal and social
dividends referring to achieving social and political stability in the
region.

In February this year, Xinhua quoted Nyima Tsering, Vice Chairman of the
“TAR” People’s Congress Standing Committee as saying that Chinese courts
had handed down sentences ranging from three years to life in prison to
a total of 76 people over the riots. However, according to the Centre’s
documentation around 235 Tibetans from “TAR” and Tibetan areas outside
“TAR” have so far been sentenced to varying prison terms by court at
different levels for their participation in the spring Tibet protest
last year. TCHRD considers the sentencing of Penkyi with suspended death
penalty, Penkyi to life and Chime to 10 years jail term as highly
arbitrary and summary in nature, which failed to meet the minimal
international judicial standards, required for a fair trial. The Centre
would like to seek the intervention of the international community and
related UN mandates holders to secure justice for three Tibetan
defendants. The Centre believes such court sentences are used as
intimidation tactic by the authorities to Tibetans who dare show their
dissent with the state.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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