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Group Says China Has Executed 4 for Roles in Tibet Riots

October 26, 2009

By ANDREW JACOBS
The New York Times
October 24, 2009

BEIJING -- A Tibetan exile group in India says
that the Chinese authorities have executed four
people convicted for their roles in the riots that convulsed Tibet last year.

According to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights
and Democracy, the four were put to death on
Tuesday, more than six months after they were
tried and convicted of starting fires in the
Tibetan capital, Lhasa, that killed seven people.

At least 18 people died in March 2008 during
violence that was directed at Han Chinese
migrants, whose growing presence in the region
has angered many native Tibetans. Since then at
least 84 people have been convicted during trials
that rights groups say are opaque, cursory and unfair.

The executions were not announced by the Chinese
news media, and a woman who answered the phone at
the Lhasa Municipal Intermediate People’s Court
hung up when asked to confirm the accounts provided by the exile group.

The executions come at a time of deteriorating
relations between China and representatives of
the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader who
has been trying to negotiate greater autonomy for
Tibetans. This week Chinese officials angrily
denounced his planned visit to a Buddhist area of
India that China claims as its own. China views
the Dalai Lama, who fled to India three decades
ago, as an instigator of Tibetan separatism.

Although they claim that Tibetans are sometimes
secretly killed in detention, exile groups say
the executions this week were the first in Tibet
since 2002. They identified three of those killed
as Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, both men, and a woman named Penkyi.

Tashi Choephel, a researcher at the center, said
he was unable to confirm the identity of the
fourth. "It is extremely difficult to get any
news out of Tibet, and those who provide
information do so at great risk to their own
lives," he said, speaking from Dharamsala, India.

In announcing the convictions in April, the
state-run news agency Xinhua said the accused had
set fire to downtown clothing stores, killing
employees who were cowering inside. "These arsons
were among the worst crimes," according to a court official quoted at the time.

"They led to extremely serious consequences,
resulted in great loss of life and property and
severely undermined social order, security and stability."

In an effort to maintain order since the riots,
the authorities have intensified their grip on
daily life in Tibet and imposed greater
restrictions on Buddhist monks and nuns, many of
whom were at the center of the initial protests that turned violent.

According to the Congressional-Executive
Commission on China, which released a report on
Thursday that documents the crackdown, at least
670 Tibetans have been jailed in 2009 for
activities that include peaceful protest or
leaking information to the outside world.
<http://www.cecc.gov/pages/virtualAcad/tibet/tibet_2008-2009.pdf>

The report detailed a widespread "patriotic
education" campaign that requires monks and nuns
to pass examinations on political texts, agree
that Tibet is historically a part of China and denounce the Dalai Lama.

"The government has in the past year used
institutional, educational, legal and propaganda
channels to pressure Tibetan Buddhists to modify
their religious views and aspirations," the report said.
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