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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

China puts on hold trial of Tibet environmentalist

June 22, 2010

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN
The Associated Press
June 22, 2010

BEIJING (AP) -- An award-winning Tibetan
environmentalist's trial on separatism charges
has been put on hold, the latest twist in a trio
of intertwined cases pitting three brothers
against China's communist authorities.

The cases come amid increasing reports of
repression of Tibetan intellectuals, an echo of
the massive security crackdown that followed
deadly rioting in the capital Lhasa two years ago.

Rinchen Samdrup was due to go on trial Thursday
in the Tibetan region of Chamdo on the charge of
"incitement to split the country," but the trial
was abruptly canceled on Sunday, according to lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.

Rinchen Samdrup, 44, was detained in August,
along with his younger brother, Chime Namgyal,
after they accused local officials in eastern
Tibet of poaching endangered species.

Chime Namgyal, 38, is reportedly serving a
21-month sentence in a labor camp on the vague
charge of harming national security.

A third brother, Karma Samdrup, 42, was arrested
Jan. 3 after visiting his brothers in jail and
speaking in their defense. He was due to go on
trial on Tuesday in Yanqi county in the far
western region of Xinjiang adjoining Chinese-administered Tibet.

He is accused of dealing in looted antiquities,
charges dating from 1998 that were never pursued
until this year. Supporters say the charges were
revived to punish him for standing up for his brothers.

Authorities in tightly controlled Tibet are
extremely sensitive to any form of social
activism and criticism of their work, either
explicit or implied. And suppression of
intellectuals appears to have increased in the
wake of the 2008 Lhasa riots, in which at least 22 people died

The Washington-based International Campaign for
Tibet last month reported that 31 Tibetans are
currently in prison "after reporting or
expressing views, writing poetry or prose, or
simply sharing information about Chinese
government policies and their impact in Tibet today."

The group said it was the first time since the
end of China's chaotic Cultural Revolution in
1976 that there has been such a targeted campaign
against peaceful expression by Tibetan intellectuals.

It wasn't clear whether authorities were waiting
to try Rinchen Samdrup at a later date or if the
trial's cancellation indicated problems with the
case. Calls to the court on Monday rang unanswered.

His sister-in-law, Karma Samdrup's wife Zhenga
Cuomao, said her husband found his brothers in
poor condition when he visited them last year.

"Karma went to see his two brothers last year
before he himself was detained. He said that his
brothers had been badly mistreated, especially
his little brother, who he said might not be able
to live much longer," Zhenga Cuomao said by phone
from Xinjiang, where she was hoping to attend Tuesday's trial.

Pu, Karma Samdrup's lawyer, said he would be
optimistic about an acquittal under ordinary
circumstances, but that "judging from the current
situation in reality combined with years of
experience of mine, I think the role that lawyers
can play in this case is very much limited."
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