China sentences nine Tibetans to prison for "underworld" activity
The Chinese government has sentenced nine Tibetans to prison for participating in "underworld" activity
Nine Tibetans have been sentenced to prison terms ranging between three and seven years for what China has called organised crime, extortion and assembling a mob to disturb the social order.
The sentences were handed down by the Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren) County People’s Court between 10 and 14 April under a law introduced in February 2018. The law has been called a reaction to “underworld forces.”
A human rights report published late last year said the law is part of a crackdown and criminalisation of social organisation among Tibetans and their other traditional and informal social activities.
Those charged were Dukbum Tsering, Shawo Tsering, Khashan Gyal, Sonam Gyal, Gedun Soepa, Choesang, Tashi Tsering, Dhargye and Pendhi Dorjee. They come from Horgyal village, Rebkong County, Malho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture,Qinghai Province.
The nine Tibetans are considered to be leaders in local Tibetan social organisations, Tibet Watch said, adding that local Tibetan People are now living under the charge of being underworld forces.
In early 2018, a report by Chinese state media identified twelve activities that would qualify the participant to be associated with “underworld forces” in the eyes of the state.
The first point said citizens are considered to be engaged in this activity if they: “Interfere in local governance and to influence, to meddle in the people’s affairs to create obstruction and disturbance, using family clan and religious power to indulge in illegal activities to obstruct the regular life and output of other people in the name of a local leader or boss.''
Chinese official media organisation Malho Daily reported that Rebkong County Public Security Bureau had originally arrested the nine Tibetans on 13 July 2018.
China continues to crackdown on Tibetan activists and dissidents who promote language, environment protection, religious preservation and social mediation among the local Tibetan people under the charge of an underworld force campaign.