A court in western China’s Sichuan province has sentenced a Tibetan monk to five years in prison for sharing books and teachings by Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, RFA has learned.
Lobsang Thinley, a monk in his early 20s from Kirti monastery, was taken into custody on July 1 by police in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county, with his family left uninformed of his whereabouts for several months after his arrest, according to Tibetan sources.
“He was charged with disseminating teachings by the Dalai Lama and sharing books about him,” Kyisar Lhudup, a Tibetan living in exile in Paris said, citing contacts in the Ngaba region.
“It came to light in September that he is now being held at the Mianyang Prison in Sichuan, and that authorities informed his family in a letter that he had been sentenced to five years in prison,” Lhudup said.
“They were also told they could visit him and bring him some food,” Lhudup said, adding that no family members or legal representatives had been present at Thinley’s trial.
Thinley had run into trouble with police in the past for sharing teachings by the Dalai Lama and was detained and released several times before, Lhudup said. “This caused his family and other relatives great concern, but he was undeterred by warnings from the police and continued his activities right up until his arrest in July,” he said.
This latest five-year sentence comes as Chinese authorities ramp up a political crackdown in Ngaba, Lhudup added.
“For fear of retaliation, his relatives have remained tightlipped about Thinley’s sentence. Information about it was therefore delayed for a while in reaching outside contacts, and it is difficult now to ascertain the current situation in Ngaba,” he said.
Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is widely reviled by Chinese leaders as a separatist intent on splitting Tibet, a formerly independent Himalayan country which was invaded and incorporated into China by force in 1950, from Beijing’s control.
The Dalai Lama, who now lives in exile in India, says only that he seeks a greater autonomy for Tibet as a part of China, with guaranteed protections for Tibet’s language, culture and religion.
Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on Tibet and Tibetan regions of western China, restricting Tibetans’ political activities and peaceful expression of ethnic and religious identity, and subjecting Tibetans to persecution, torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings.
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