THE “EVIL” TRIAL OF 10 SANGCHU TIBETANS

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A defense lawyer argues that Tashi Gyatso acted as a community leader reacting to the community’s collective concern against the slaughterhouse on religious and environmental grounds. Tashi submitted the collective concern as petitions to the different levels of government and other key departments. The defense lawyer argues that Amdo Gansu Investment Group voluntarily paid the 1 million yuan fund. He also points out that an agreement was reached between the Amdo Group and the local Tibetans under the coordination of the Banggurthang Township government. The plan to build a stupa was hindered due to uncertainties in finding a location because of an impending railway construction plan running through the town. The defense lawyer also points out that Namlha Monastery had a roughly 2 million yuan fund prior to Amdo Group’s payment of 1 million yuan. To the accusation of extortion from Ma Weimin and Ma Gawu, the defense lawyer points out the donation from them was voluntary, and the amount of 20,000 yuan was determined by them. Buddhists and Muslims support each other’s initiatives. In the past, Buddhists also donated money for Muslims to build a mosque. As an analogy, the defense lawyer argues whether the government engaged in extortion when the government mobilized people to donate during the Sichuan earthquake, a.k.a. the Wenchuan earthquake, in 2008.

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1. Amdo Group’s accusation of being extorted 1 million (or 976669) yuan cannot be established.

There is a reason to build a stupa. In early May 2012, Amdo Group was building a slaughterhouse in Banggurthang Town. Religious people in the Namlha area came to see Tashi Gyatso, the director of the monastery’s folk management committee, because the religious people felt that the construction of a slaughterhouse in front of the Buddhist holy site violated the Buddhist principle of non-killing and also hurt the religious sentiments of Buddhist believers. Besides, the pollutants discharged from the slaughterhouse will destroy the environment in Namlha area. Tashi Gyatso could not shirk his responsibility to protect the religious feelings and rights of religious believers. He first reported this situation to Banggurtang Township Government, the Sangchu County Political Consultative Conference and other relevant departments, and on behalf of all the monks and lay people in Namlha area, he submitted a petition to the government.

Amdo Group voluntarily paid the funds for the construction of the stupa, but the reason why the stupa has not been built so far is not due to Tashi Gyasto. After the one million yuan funds were received, Tashi Gyatso actively prepared for the construction of the stupa. The first thing he faced is the problem on the location. He contacted the relevant departments one after another, and they said that a railway will be built through this place, so the stupa has not been built. As of March 2014, the location issues for the stupa were still unresolved. Reluctantly, Tashi Gyatso approached the master Gungthangtsang of Labrang Monastery and prayed for help. The master proposed that the plan of building the stupa should be changed to build a statue of Amitabha Buddha. On July 14, 2014, Tashi Gyatso approached Banggurthang Town Government for support.

Tashi Gyatso and others did not indulge in violence or soft violence in receiving funds from Amdo Group. Under the coordination of the Banggurthang Township Government, the people of Namlha area and Amdo Group reached an agreement. No one at Amdo Group was threatened. Tashi Gyatso only said that the masses may agitate if the stupa is not built. He said that he will not be able to control mass agitation if it occurs and that the Group may want to resolve it in order to avoid regretting it later. There is no evidence that Tashi Gyatso gathered a crowd to make trouble.

On May 6, 2012, Amdo Group reached an agreement with all religious people of Namlha Monastery to pay one million yuan. There is nothing wrong with the monastery’s folk management committee increasing the income of the monastery. Prior to Amdo Group’s payment of one million yuan, there was about two million yuan funds in the monastery’s account. It can’t be said that the monastery management committee’s loan to the people must be the one million yuan paid by Amdo Group. Therefore, the accusation of extorting one million from Amdo Group’s cannot be established.

2. There is no evidence, nor did it conform to objective facts in accusing extortion from Ma Weimin and Ma Gawu of Shangxia Jiedao Village.

There is no definite evidence to prove the forced extortion mentioned in the indictment. According to the indictment, Tsewang and other members of the Monastery’s Folk Management Committee met with Ma Weimin and Ma Gawu three times and forced them to pay.

In reality, it is very common in the community, whether they are Muslim or Buddhists, to support each other. Before Ma Weimin and Ma Gawu donated 20,000 yuan to Namlha Monastery, Namlha Monastery also donated money to the mosque. Ma Weimin said Tashi Gyatso and others threatened him to pay 20,000 yuan. In fact, Namlha Monastery never proposed the donation amount. Ma Weimin and Ma Gawu themselves set the amount of 20,000 yuan. During the Wenchuan earthquake, the government mobilized everyone to donate. Can it be said that it is extortion by the government? Ma Weimin and Ma Gawu ‘s 20,000 yuan has no relevance to this case.

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