Tibetans Sentenced to Death

Two Tibetans were sentenced to death and two to death with a two-year reprieve for their role in the unrest in Lhasa last March. From the Guardian:

According to the Xinhua news agency, Lobsang Gyaltsen will be executed for arson attacks on two garment shops in central Lhasa on 14 March that killed a shop owner. The same sentence was handed down to Loyak for torching a motorcycle dealership in Deqen Township, which left five people dead, it said.

Suspended death penalties were passed on an accomplice, Kangtsuk, and on Tenzin Phuntsok who reportedly confessed to starting a separate lethal fire. A fifth defendant is still being tried.

“The three arson cases are among the crimes that led to the worst consequences in the 14 March riot,” the court spokeseman was quoted by Xinhua as saying. “Their crimes incurred great losses to people’s lives and property and severely undermine the social order, security and stability.”

Christian Science Monitor correspondent Peter Ford writes on his blog that the news was officially released by Xinhua in English before it was reported in the domestic media:

Bizarrely, the news first appeared Wednesday evening on the English-language service of the state-run Xinhua news agency. But nowhere was it to be found on the Chinese language service for another 24 hours.

That meant that, while the world knew, not a single paper in China ran a story Thursday about the first death sentences known to have been passed on Tibetans for last year’s riots, on individuals identified as Losang Gyaltse and Loyar – except the government-run “Tibetan Daily,” published in Lhasa, Tibet’s capital.

They put it in their hard-copy edition, but for some reason it was not findable on their website until Thursday afternoon. Only then did a handful of news portals elsewhere on the Chinese Web pick the story up.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that negotiations between Beijing and the TIbetan government-in-exile have stalled:

Speaking in London today, Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama’s envoy and chief negotiator, said the Tibetan leader remained committed to dialogue but he admitted the talks process was at a halt and that no new meetings were planned. The Dalai Lama was waiting for a sign from Beijing that it was serious about resolving Tibet’s myriad problems, he said. Meanwhile Tibetans wanted a “strong and clear” position by the international community to step up pressure on China.

Gyaltsen said China had imposed “undeclared martial law” in Tibet in recent months and had greatly increased its military presence to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first Tibetan uprising. Chinese forces had penetrated even the remotest areas and were building barracks in preparation for a long occupation, he said. Officials said repressive measures, including torture, remain in widespread use. A massive Chinese propaganda effort to “whitewash their subjugation of the Tibetan people” was underway at home and abroad in parallel with the continued banning of independent foreign media.

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