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Tibetan PEN calls for unconditional release of detained Tibetan writers

February 5, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dharamsala, February 3: Tibetan Writers Abroad PEN Centre, a circle of
Dharamsala-based exiled Tibetan writers affiliated to International PEN,
organised a candle light vigil on Saturday evening calling on China for
“immediate and unconditional release” of Tibetan writers currently
detained in Chinese prisons inside Tibet.

The vigil was also part of the centre’s campaign to protest “the
ten-year prison sentence handed down to Dolma Kyab” who was detained
since March 2005 and sentenced on September 16, 2005, reportedly linked
to his unpublished book, The restless Himalaya”[Ch: Sao Dong De

The Tibetan PEN centre also said they were protesting China for the
other Tibetan writers currently detained in Tibet and were “calling for
their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which
China became a signatory in 1998”.

“We are seeking immediate assurances that they are not ill-treated in
prison” and “… are urging the Chinese authorities to respect their basic
rights whilst detained and to grant them full access to their families,
lawyers and any necessary medical care,” the group stated in its press

The groups said cases of Tibetan writers facing imprisonment, house
arrests and constant intimidation “for expressing the suppressed voices
of the Tibetan people” are common inside Tibet.

According to the group, the literatures written by the Tibetan writers
were banned, confiscated and burned down by communist authorities and
the blogs created by the Tibetan writers were closed and, their writers
detained and imprisoned.

“Today, the Tibetan writers dare to write under extremely difficult
circumstances and cannot write on subjects that are considered sensitive
by the Chinese (Communist) regime,” Lhamo Kyab, president of the Tibetan
PEN Centre and member of the exile Tibetan parliament, told the
participants of the candle light vigil.

Dawa Gyaltsen, Jampel Gyatso, Ven. Ngawang Phulchung, Tashi Gyaltsen,
Lobsang Dharge are some of the other Tibetan writers, the group said
“are serving prison sentences ranging from 5 to 19 years”. The press
statement also said, “writers like Tsering Woser, Ven. Rinchen Sangpo ad
Kalsang Gyam Tso (A-Kal Gyam)) are living under the precarious
circumstances, near house arrest and intimidation by the Chinese

The Tibetan PEN group said they were contacting more than 114 PEN
centres around the world to share with them the plight of the Tibetan
writers in Tibet and campaign for their unconditional release. The group
said, with the support of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and
Democracy and other international Human Rights bodies, they have
successfully influenced the International PEN to highlight the case of
three Tibetan writers; Dolma Kyab, Dawa Gyaltsen and Jampel Gyatso on
December 10 2007.

“Our campaign is also to press on the Chinese Government to respect the
fundamental rights, including freedom of speech, expression and opinion
of the Tibetan people,” Mr Lhamo said.
“The Chinese Government has so far repeatedly claimed that the Tibetan
people were entitled to the basic rights but in reality China’s human
rights records in Tibet remains grim and a matter of serious concern,”
he said.

The candle light vigil proceeded from Dharamsala’s main McLeod Ganj
square to the TsuglagKhang. Several Tibetans, including monks, nuns and
foreign tourists took part in it.

Dharamsala in the northern Himachal State of India is the seat of the
Tibetan Government-in-Exile.
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