Tibet Watch

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Court sentences Tibetan monk to three years in prison

Lobsang Dorjee. The text over the image refers to his previous prison sentence.

Lobsang Dorjee. The text over the image refers to his previous prison sentence.

A Tibetan monk has been sentenced to three years in prison. Lobsang Dorjee, 36, was sentenced on 3 September following a year spent in detention without charge after he was taken from his room at Kirti Monastery by police one night in July 2018.

The details of the charges against him are yet to emerge, but some Tibetan sources in the region think his arrest is related to contact with Tibetan exiles outside of the country.

Since 2017 China has made efforts to criminalise Tibetans suspected of support for Tibetan nationalism, loyalty to the Dalai Lama or contact with other Tibetans in exile.

The criminalisation has become part of Beijing’s wider campaign to crackdown against “underworld forces” in Tibet and China, a campaign which Human Rights Watch has called a pretext to silence dissent.

On 5 September Tibet Watch reported that authorities in eastern Tibet, governed as Qinghai Province, had broadcast an instruction  as part of the campaign. It warned citizens they could face up to eight years in prison for publishing or sharing “illegal information” on a communication app called WeChat which damages the Chinese Communist Party.

Large numbers of Tibetans have been criminalised by Beijing's “underworld forces” laws with regional authorities targeting in particular those who have been involved with political activity in the past.

But due to the “severe” clampdown on communications, the full details of the campaign are yet to emerge.

Lobsang has previously been imprisoned for two years over his alleged participation in the 2008 protests against the Chinese government and authorities in Tibet.


Michael Selby-Green