Tibetans sentenced to prison after Panchen Lama gathering
Dolkar and her nephew Wangchen were sentenced on 8 May. Their current whereabouts are unknown.
Two Tibetans in eastern Tibet have received prison sentences following a series of local gatherings to mark the 30th birthday of the Panchen Lama.
Wangchen, 20-year-old, and his aunt Dolkar, both from Sershul County in Kardze, were sentenced to four and a half years in prison and one year and three months respectively. The sentencing was carried out at a local court yesterday, 8 May.
The charges originate from a peaceful gathering that took place in Sershul County between on 29 April. On this day, four Tibetans, Wangchen, his friends Lobsang and Youten, and a fourth Tibetan who has not been identified, raised prayer flags on the hillside of Sershul Monastery. They shouted slogans demanding the release of the Panchen Lama, the second highest authority in Tibetan Buddhism and who has been missing since he and his family were detained by Chinese authorities in May 1995. They also called for the Panchen Lama and the exiled Dalai Lama to one day be reunited in Tibet.
On their way back from the monastery, at around 10:30 am (Tibet local time), the four were apprehended by a police officer. Wangchen, Lobsang and Youten were subsequently detained while the fourth person was released.
Authorities warned the families of those detained to stay away from them until their trial. They were also ordered not to tell others about the arrest.
An enforced silence
On 3 May, Sershul Court summoned Wangchen’s aunt, Dolkar, on the suspicion that she had shared information about the arrests. Local sources say that the court told her that she had been watched closely during previous days and that she would face consequences for any lies that she told.
On the morning of 8 May, Wangchen, Dolkar, Lobsang and Youten appeared in court. Five family members were allowed to attend. They were kept under surveillance throughout the trial.
At the trial, Wangchen was found guilty of leading a protest against the law of the land, and Dolkar of causing social instability.
Lobsang and Youten received fines of 15,000 yuan each and are required to report to Sershul National Education Department for six months of compulsory re-education.
The current whereabouts of Dolkar and Wangchen following the sentencing are unknown.