Dui Hua Human Rights Journal: Tibetan Guide’s Incitement Case Surfaces: 3-Year Sentence for Emails, Text Messages

From the Dui Hua Human Rights Journal:

Dui Hua has obtained and produced English translations of the indictment and verdict (original documents in PDF) for a previously unknown case of a Tibetan sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting splittism” after the March 14 riots in Lhasa. The case against Gonpo Tserang (贡保才让), a well-respected expedition guide who has trekked with foreign celebrities and participated in high-profile mountain rescue efforts, involved a series of emails and text messages sent over three days to acquaintances outside of China. These messages, which prosecutors claim “distorted the facts and true situation regarding social stability in the Tibetan area following the ‘March 14 incident” were considered by the court to be deserving of severe punishment.

This case is significant in a number of respects. First, it is the only case Dui Hua is aware of in which a Tibetan in Yunnan Province has been convicted of a state security crime following the Tibetan protests of 2008. Second, it is not at all apparent that the charge of “inciting splittism” was properly applied. The content of the messages is never specified, and it is questionable whether individuals who are not located in China are even capable of carrying out acts that would “split the nation or undermine national unity.” An argument could thus be made that, never imagining that his messages could “incite splittism,” Gonpo Tserang did not intend to do so. This is perhaps an argument that an attorney could have raised in his defense. Unfortunately, it appears that, at least for his appeal, Gonpo Tserang was not represented by counsel—very likely a result of the reluctance of most lawyers to take on criminal defense work in political cases and the threats made warning of serious consequences for lawyers who volunteered to defend Tibetans.

Below is an excerpt of Gongbo Tserang’s indictment and verdict, translated by Dui Hua:

Defendant Gonpo Tserang, male, born December 13, 1976, identification number: 523232197612131519, from Ruoergai [Dzoege] County, Aba [Ngaba] Prefecture, Sichuan Province, understands Tibetan and English and [is employed as a] guide in the expeditions department of the Xianggelila Travel Service. Prior to arrest, resided at 3-1-2 Old Civil Aviation Development, Jiantang Town, Xianggelila County. Placed under criminal detention by the Diqing Prefecture Public Security Bureau on March 23, 2008, on suspicion of inciting splittism. On April 26 of the same year, after approval from our procuratorate, he was arrested by the Diqing Prefecture Public Security Bureau in accordance with the law. He is now in custody and has no prior criminal record.

The Diqing Prefecture Public Security Bureau completed its investigation and sent the case of Gonpo Tserang, suspected of the crime of inciting splittism, to our procuratorate on June 25, 2008, for review and prosecution. After receiving the case, we notified the defendant of his right to retain defense counsel, questioned the defendant in accordance with the law, and reviewed all of the case materials. On July 31, 2008, the case was sent back to the Diqing Prefecture Public Security Bureau for additional investigation, and on August 29 the bureau concluded its investigation and reported [its findings] back to our procuratorate.

Following investigation in accordance with the law, it was ascertained that from March 16 to 18, 2008, defendant Gonpo Tserang used the Internet and a mobile telephone to send inflammatory emails and messages that distorted the facts and true situation regarding social stability in the Tibetan area following the “March 14 incident” to Daiwei, Jimu, and Pan Feilaici, [who were all] outside the country.

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