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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."

Founder of Tibetan Web site gets 15 years

November 18, 2009

The Associated Press (AP)
November 17, 2009

BEIJING -- The founder of a Tibetan literary Web
site was sentenced to 15 years in prison on
charges of disclosing state secrets, an overseas monitoring group said Tuesday.

Kunchok Tsephel, 39, was convicted and sentenced
Nov. 12 after a closed-door trial at the
Intermediate People's Court of Gannan prefecture
in southwestern Gansu province, according to
reports from Tibet received by Tibetan exiles,
said the International Campaign for Tibet, a
Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

Some of the charges are believed to be related to
content posted on his influential Web site,
Chodme, or Butter-Lamp, which promotes Tibetan
culture, and also for passing on information
about last year's anti-government protests.

Kunchok Tsephel, who has been detained by police
since Feb. 26, had also worked in a Chinese
government environmental department.

His family, who did not know where he had been
held for nine months, was summoned last Thursday
to hear the verdict, the ICT group said.

There was no official comment, and no way to
independently confirm the court case.

Kunchok Tsephel had founded his Web site on
Tibetan art and literature in 2005 along with a
fellow poet. Authorities have shut it down
several times over the past few years.

Last year, mass anti-government protests broke
out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and in
Tibetan communities in surrounding provinces. The
occasionally violent demonstrations were the most
sustained unrest in the region since the late 1980s.

Tibetan resentment against Chinese rule has been
fueled by religious restrictions and competition
for resources with migrants from the Han Chinese
majority. Similar grievances fed ethnic rioting
this year in the neighboring heavily Muslim
region of Xinjiang that left nearly 200 dead.

The government says it has spent billions
improving living conditions in minority areas and respects their rights.

In the wake of the Tibet protests, the Chinese
government installed a heavy security presence in
the region, arresting thousands in connection with the unrest.
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