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RAN 33/09 Update #1 12 July 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International protests the four-year prison sentence handed down to Tibetan writer and editor Tashi Rabten (pen-name Te’urang) on 2 June 2011 for his critical writings. The WiPC calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Rabten and all others held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

According to PEN’s information, Tashi Rabten, co-editor of the banned Tibetan-language literary magazine Shar Dungri (Eastern Snow Mountain), was arrested on 6 April 2010 and held without charge at Ngaba Prefecture’s Barkham County Detention Centre, Sichuan province, western China. He was tried behind closed doors at a court in Aba prefecture on 2 June 2011, although his conviction was not reported until 2 July 2011. Details of the charges against him have not been officially confirmed, although he is thought to be convicted of inciting separatism for a collection of political articles entitled Written in Blood on the suppression of the March 2008 protests in Lhasa and surrounding regions. Prior to his arrest Tashi Rabten, aged twenty-five, was a student at the Northwest Minorities University in Lanzhou, and had reportedly been under surveillance for some time.

Three other writers are currently in jail for articles published in the Shar Dungri journal. They are Dhonkho, Bhudha and Khelsang Jinpa, who were all reportedly detained in June and July 2010 after they published essays about the 2008 crackdown. This collection of writings was the first known material in Tibetan on the 2008 protests to have been published in the People’s Republic of China. The magazine was quickly banned, but not before copies had circulated in areas of Qinghai and Gansu provinces and beyond. Dhonkho, Bhudha and Khelsang Jinpa were put on trial by the Ngaba Intermediate People’s Court, Sichuan Province, on 21 October 2010 on charges of ‘splittism’. On 30 December 2010 Dhonkho and Bhudha were sentenced to four years in prison, and Kelsang Jinpa to three years, for “incitement to split the nation”. For more background on the ‘Easter Snow Mountain’ writers and their writing click here.

Background

In March 2008 the Chinese authorities launched a crackdown in the Tibet Autonomous Region, after anti-government protests took place in Lhasa and other areas, with reports of arbitrary arrests and use of excessive force against dissidents. Tight restrictions remain in force on reporting from the Tibetan region and arrests are continuing.

Please send appeals:
Protesting the sentence handed to Tibetan writer Tashi Rabten, and seeking details of the charges against him
Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, including editor Tashi Rabten, and writers Dhonkho, Bhudha and Kelsang Jinpa.

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

CC. Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Party Committee
Zhang Qingli
Zhonggong Xizang Zizhiqu Weiyuanhui
Lhasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
People’s Republic of China

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. WiPC recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.

You may find it easier to write to the Chinese ambassador in your own country asking him or her to forward your appeal. Most embassies are obliged to forward such appeals to the relevant officials in the country. A letter or petition signed by an eminent member of your Centre may give make it more likely for your appeal to be considered. Similarly if your appeal is published in your local press and copied to the Chinese ambassador, this too may have greater impact.

See this useful link to find the contact details of the Chinese embassy in your country Chinese embassies abroad

Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 15 August 2011

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: cathy.mccann@pen-internationalpen.org

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