Tibetan Blogger Jailed for “Inciting Separatism”
Tibetan writer and blogger Druklo has been sentenced to three years in prison by a court in Tongren (Tibetan: Rebgong), Qinghai province, on charges of “endangering social stability” and “inciting separatism.” The blogger, also known by the pen name Shokjang, had been in detention in a secret location since March of last year, sparking condemnation and a demand for disclosure of his whereabouts from rights organizations. The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade reports:
After being in custody since March last year, he was convicted of so-called splittist activities last Wednesday (17 February) by a court in the Huangnan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai province.
Druklo, 32, who uses the pen name Shokjang, denied the charges against him and said he would appeal.
It is believed that the Chinese authorities targeted him because his blog and social media posts told of the increased presence of armed security forces in Tibet, plus political repression and environmental degradation. [Source]
Heavy security in Tibet has been the norm since the 2008 unrest in Lhasa. A wave of nearly 150 protests by self-immolation against Beijing’s policies in Tibetan regions have prompted authorities to enact heavy surveillance and heightened state censorship and propaganda campaigns.
At Radio Free Asia, Lhuboom reports further on the writing that may have prompted Druklo’s detention, and describes a prior detention in 2010 and the promise of surveillance that followed:
[…] Shokjang had also written an article that month about conditions in a school in Kangtsa (Gangcha) county in Tsochang (Haibei) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province.
[…] Authorities first detained Shokjang along with his friend Theurang on April 6, 2010, on allegations of leading a student protest and contacting outside writers and the Tibetan Youth Congress in exile, a Tibetan source previously told RFA.
Authorities also had accused them of conducting divisive activities and instigating others to resort to divisive actions, he said.
At the time, they were both students at the Northwest University for Nationalities in Lanzhou in Gansu province, he said.
[…] Shokjang was detained in a facility in Lanzhou and released on May 8, 2010, with stern warning that he would be watched for 10 years. He was also banned from re-enrolling in the university and not allowed to take his final exams, the source said. [Source]
The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a call for Druklo’s conviction to be overturned, noting that the Tibetan was one of the 49 that made China the world’s leading jailer of journalists according to the press freedom organization’s 2015 census:
[…] “Suppressing reporting about what is happening in Tibet only leads to further misunderstanding between Tibetans and Chinese, which is exactly what the Chinese government does not want,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We call for Druklo’s conviction and sentence to be overturned on appeal.”
Media access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas of western China has been severely restricted since violence in March 2008. International journalists are barred from visiting the region and CPJ has documented how Tibetan journalists and writers are harassed and imprisoned for their work. Information and opinion on conflicts in Tibet is censored throughout China. [Source]
For more on and about Druklo, see translated works and commentary from High Peaks Pure Earth.