The arrival of PLA troops in Kandze and ensuing arrests come after nearly a year of investigation by Kandze police relating to a series of long-life prayer ceremonies for the Dalai Lama held in various communities in the Kandze prefecture. These ceremonies were primarily held in February, the traditional time of Tibetan New Year.
The names and ages of the arrestees are: Shamba Tsangpo, 37, a Communist party member and PRC government employee; Namgyal, 35; Kayo Dogha, 55; Tsering Dorjee, 49; Jampal, 40. Family members attempted unsuccessfully to deliver food to the arrested men at the Kandze jail the first three days of detention. The families were not told the reasons for the detention but were told that the crimes were serious.
“Despite what looks like a thaw in Sino-Tibetan relations at the diplomatic level, the religious tolerance situation in Tibet hasn’t improved,” said John Ackerly, President of the International Campaign for Tibet. “Last year it was nuns and monks at Serthar, this year it’s lay Tibetans in Kandze.”
“In September Chinese authorities hosted the Dalai Lama’s chief negotiator, in October they cracked down on Tibetans who prayed for the Dalai Lama’s health,” said Ackerly.
Eyewitnesses in Kandze said that troops armed with automatic rifles marched and were bused throughout the town of Kandze and surrounding villages from October 17 to 24. During this same period, groups of 15 to 25 army personnel carried out nightly patrols and midnight training exercises in Kandze. Local Kandze police also set up checkpoints on all of the roads into and out of Kandze. It is not known whether more arrests took place after October 24th. The troops are believed to still be posted in Kandze.
Tibetans who were present at these long life ceremonies and subsequently fled Tibet for India told ICT that Kandze area residents carried out these ceremonies with an added sense of urgency following reports of the Dalai Lama’s ill health during the Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya, India in mid-January 2002.
“There were monetary collections [to sponsor the ceremonies] made in nearly all of the villages and hamlets in to honor our leader the Dalai Lama,” an unnamed Tibetan from Kandze told ICT. “The main day of the prayer ceremony, nearly 500 monks participated.”
“The locals’ enthusiasm and sense of urgency for the Dalai Lama’s long life was refueled after Tibetans returning from India reported His Holiness [the Dalai Lama] could not give the Kalachakra initiation in India owing to health reasons,” Kedun, a 30 year-old Tibetan woman reported to ICT human rights monitors in Kathmandu, Nepal, in July.
“In Kandze prefecture many villages sponsored long life ceremonies for His Holiness and at these ceremonies, the Dalai Lama’s photo portrait would be displayed prominently.”
Kedun left her village in Kandze prefecture after being summoned by Kandze police following her participating in a number of the long-life ceremonies.
During the largest of these ceremonies held on February 13, a number of Tibetans reportedly made speeches praising the Dalai Lama in front of a large framed photograph of the Dalai Lama; both are a defiance of official order. A VCD video was made of the ceremony and celebrations, which included picnicking and dancing. More than 100 copies of the video were distributed throughout Kandze in the following weeks.
While Chinese authorities have given no official explanation, Tibetans in Kandze told ICT that they believed the arrests were directly connected to the organization of the prayer ceremonies for the Dalai Lama.
“After we had the video for a few days, the Kandze police came to know about it,” an elderly Tibetan from Kandze told ICT. “Tibetan and Chinese police officers came house to house, shop to shop to confiscate the videos. So many people had been given them [the videos] that the police just collected them and no body got in trouble for having them at that time.”
Background of Political Resistance in Kandze
Kandze is an area known for its public support of the Dalai Lama and incidences of political resistance. The October 1999 arrest of Geshe Sonam Phuntsog, a highly respected scholar and Tibetan language teacher from Dargye Monastery near Kandze caused a series of demonstrations in November of that year. More than 50 Tibetans were reportedly detained in Kandze when police used tear gas and guns to break up the demonstration. Geshe Sonam Phuntsog had been charged with ‘splittist’ activities for associating with and organizing long-life ceremonies for the Dalai Lama.
ICT has recently obtained official Chinese documents that elaborate on Geshe Sonam Phuntsog’s relationship and support for the Dalai Lama, specifically referring to their meeting in India in 1996 and subsequent organizing of long-life ceremonies in the Kandze area.
The documents from the Sichuan People’s Intermediate Court in Chengdu are the first detailed account of all charges against Geshe Sonam Phuntsog. He received a five-year prison sentence beginning November 20, 2000, for a variety of ‘splittist’ activities. The document explains that Geshe Sonam Phuntsog does not deny that he met the Dalai Lama nor organized religious ceremonies in support of the Tibetan leader. Rather, the document states that Geshe Sonam Phuntsog contends such activities do not harm the national unity of the People’s Republic of China.
Banned photos of Geshe Sonam Phuntsog were also reportedly shown during the February 2002 long-life ceremonies.
Since February there have been a series of political resistance acts. On February 16, a Tibetan flag was hoisted on a prominent rock on the hillside above the Kandze police station and two weeks later, another large Tibetan flag was displayed on a prominent building in the early morning in Kandze. The Tibetan flag is officially banned and possession of it is considered a criminal offence. At least four times since February 2002, small sheets of paper and posters reading “Tibet belongs to Tibetans” and “China out of Tibet” were spread out or pasted on the walls on the main Kandze roads in the early morning hours. No arrests of Tibetans were reported to ICT from these incidences.
“Putting up of free Tibet posters and scattering them along the road has happened so many times in Kandze,” Kedun told human right monitors. “Police personnel would be seen gathering them up early in the morning and then burning them. This continuous expression of resistance has continued for a long period the last two years.”
Information on the recent arrests and heavy Chinese military presence in Kandze has emerged close to the next round of U.S.-China bilateral human rights talks, scheduled for mid-December.
The English translation (done by Rinchen Tashi, China Analyst for the International Campaign for Tibet) of Geshe Sonam Phuntsog’s sentencing papers appears below. The original Chinese document is also available from ICT.
The People’s (Intermediate) Secondary Court of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province
Criminal Court Verdict
(2002) gan zhong xin yi chu zi No. 11
Public Prosecutor: People’s Prosecutorial Bureau of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Translator: He Shuhua, Female, a cadre from the Translation Bureau of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Accused Person: Shenglong Pencuo (Sonam Phuntsok), other used name: Luorong Duojie (Losang Dorjee). Male. Tibetan. 48 years old. Monk.. Educational level is equivalent to college association degree in Tibetan language. A resident of Ganzi county in Sichuan Province. Before being arrested, he was living in Qingsa Village, Xise Township in Ganzi County, Sichuan Province. October 10th in 1999, he was arrested as the suspected person for bombing the Public Security Bureau of Ganzi County. April 21st in 2000, he was suspected for involvement in a case of attempting to separate the country. Under the permit from People’s Prosecutorial Bureau of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, he was detained by the Public Security Bureau of Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture. He has currently been detained in the Detention Center of Ganzi Prefecture.
Defender: Nacan Nuluo, a relative of the accused
People’s Prosecutorial Bureau of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture submits indictment No.14 to prosecute Shenglong Pencuo (Sonam Phuntsok) who has committed the crime of advocating separation of the country, and submitted to prosecution to the court on June 19th in 2000. The court arranged the procedures of trial based on the law. The trial was not open to the public. After the trial committee had discussions and made the final decision, and the trial is now over.
People’s Prosecutorial Bureau of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture accuses: In 1996, Shenglong Pencuo, the accused, illegally bought oversea travel document, and went to India. The Dalai Lama met him and took picture with him.
After he came back to Ganzi from India, the accused illegally held many inter-regional and large scale Buddhist activities in the Capital of Ganzi county, Gonglong, Laima, and Zake of Degai County. On January 30th in 1998, the accused illegally organized an illegal gathering with 2,000 monks and other people in Cuoba Township in Ganzi county, chanting long life prayers for the Dalai Lama, spreading reactionary words of propaganda on “Tibet independence”, and instigating the relationship between patriotic reincarnated lama and other monks.
As evidence for above charges, we have: testimonies of witnesses, videotapes, travel visa, and a list of other things.
The prosecutor accecuses: Shenglong Pencuo’s action violated section 2 of rule No.103 in “the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China”. Therefore he had committed the crime of advocating to separate the country and should be punished by the law.
The accused insists: He has never spoken any word on separating the country or about “Tibetan Independence.”
The lawyer of the accused says:1. Shenglong Pencuo has never personally spoken on “Tibet independence” and advocating to separate the country;2. Shenglong Pencuo had made a serious political mistake, but had not committed any crime.
The investigation shows:
One. In February 1996, the accused did not apply (for oversea travel document) at the authority where he has his hukou. He bought travel document in Lhasa, Tibet and went to India, meeting and taking pictures with Dalai Lama, the political exile who is engaging in activities to separate the motherland.
On the above fact, the prosecutor has provided following evidence:1. In February 1996, the accused bought an oversea travel document;2. The evidence of written record from The Custom Managing Department of Ganzi Prefecture indicates: the accused did not apply to public security bureau where he has his hukou, but he bought travel document in Lhasa and went another country. His action was illegal;3. The photograph of the accused with the Dalai Lama was shown at the court.
At the court, the accused and his lawyer had no disagreement with above evidences.
Two. After his return from India, the accused held many inter-regional and large scale Buddhist activities in Rongbacha, Gonglong, Laima in Ganze County, and Zake in Dege County to promote his personal image in eyes of monks and the public.
On the above facts, the prosecutor has provided following evidence:
1. The testimony of witness Xue X indicates: The accused had religious teachings in Puse Township, Renguo and Gonglong in Ganzi County, Zhake in Dege County and Ase in Xinlong county.2. According to the regulation document of (1994) No. 72 by the People’s Government of Ganzi Prefecture, one should apply to the authorities to get a permit in order to have religious activities.
At the court, the accused and his lawyer had no disagreement with above evidence.
Three. In order to achieve his aim to separate the country and sabotage the unity of nationalities, the accused illegally organized a mass gathering with 2,000 participants at Puse Township of Ganze County on January 30th in 1998 to pray for the long life for the Dalai Lama, the exile who has been engaged in activities to separate the motherland. At this prayer gathering, the accused raised a giant portrait of the Dalai Lama, which was provided by the accused himself, and entered in the gathering with slogans. During the religious teaching session, the accused not only chanted long life prayers for the Dalai Lama, but also openly advocated monks and other people to believe in the Dalai Lama. At the same time, the activity of chanting long life prayers for the Dalai Lama was taped by video camera, and the tape was spread in many places. October 25th in 1999, when our public security bureau based on law took an action to control the accused, because of a few reactionary elements, over 3,000 local people attacked the township government and the police station.
On the above fact, the prosecutor has provided following evidence:
1. The video tape of Shenglong Pecuo’s teaching in Xise Township in Ganzi County was displayed at the court. It indicated that the activity was organized by the accused and he raised a large portrait of the Dalai Lama, and about 2,000 monks and other people participated.2. Materials from the Public Security Bureau of Ganzi Prefecture indicates: the video tape was voluntarily handed by Ban X.3. Ban X as a witness testified that the videotape was taped while the accused was teaching in Puse Township of Ganzi County. He also testified that the tape shows that the accused was urging everybody to listen to what the Dalai Lama says.4. The government has clear conclusion: The Dalai Lama is the general head of the separatist political clique who has been seeking “Tibetan independence.” The Dalai Lama is a loyal tool of international anti-China forces, and is the barrier for establishing the normal practice of Tibetan Buddhism. The issue of the Dalai Lama is not a religious issue, but it is a political issue. The clique of the Dalai Lama is a well-organized separatist political clique who has guiding principles. The Dalai Lama is definitely not just a religious figure, but a political exiled who has been trying to separate the motherland.5. The court showed all of the above evidence to the accused and his lawyer. They denied witness Ban X’s testimony — “that the tape shows the accused was urging everybody to listen to what the Dalai Lama says”, but they had no disagreement with rest of the evidence.
Having discussions, the judging committee came up the conclusion: Shenglong Pencuo, the accused, organized the activity of chanting long life prayers for the Dalai Lama on January 30th in 1998, and it is the evidence of fact that the accused advocated the mass of people to believe in the Dalai Lama. The accused and his lawyer denied some part of witness Ban X’s testimony, but that did not affect verifying the evidence listed above by the prosecutor. The judging committee realized that fact, and it was to be evidence for making a judgment.
Four. In December 1999, the accused had mail communications with the Dalai Lama’s exile government many times, and kept a constant connection between them.
On the above fact, the prosecutor has provided following evidence:
Two letters in Tibetan between the accused and the Dalai Lama’s exile government which were held in custody by the Public Security Bureau of Ganzi Prefecture were shown at the court.
The accused and his lawyer did not agree with the above evidence. They admitted that they had letter contact, but the actual letters were not written on the stationary of the Dalai Lama’s exile government. But according to the conclusion of the judging committee: The papers and stamps used for the letters between the accused and the exile government belong to the Dalai Lama’s exile government, and the accused and his lawyer could not provide any relevant evidence. Therefore the court recognized that evidence provided by the prosecutor were to be evidence for making a judgment.
The Conclusion of the court: Shenglong Pencuo, the accused, illegally went overseas without obtaining the travel document from local public security agency where he had his hukou, and met and took pictures with the Dalai Lama, the political exiled who is trying to separate the motherland. After his return, the accused organized many inter-regional and big scale Buddhist activities. Especially on January 30th in 1998, he provided a giant portrait of the Dalai Lama, gathered a huge number of monks and other people to participate chanting long life prayers for the Dalai Lama. He also taped the chanting activity, praised the Dalai Lama, and urged all people to believe in the Dalai Lama, and he also tried to promote his image among the people. He had long close relationship and letter contact with the Dalai Lama’s exile government. October 25th in 1999, when our public security bureau, based on law took an action to control [arrest?] the accused, because of a few reactionary elements, over 3,000 local people attacked the township government and the police station.
Now the facts of the case are clear, and there is enough evidence for the case. The prosecutor’s accusations are tenable. Even though the accused and his lawyer denied that he delivered the words “Tibet independence,” his actions showed that the accused advocated separating the country and undermining the unity of our nationalities. The lawyer said that the accused made a serous political mistake, but did not commit any crime. To answer to this, the government has clear conclusion: The Dalai Lama is the general head of the separatist political clique who has been seeking “Tibetan independence.” But the accused ignored the laws and policies of the country; he organized monks and other people to display a giant portrait of the Dalai Lama, openly praising the Dalai Lama and letting the public believe in the Dalai Lama and chanting long life prayers for the Dalai Lama. At the same time, the accused constantly had communications and letter contacts with the Dalai Lama’s exile government. All of his actions are evidence to prove the fact what the accused has done for advocating separating the country. The impact of the actions of the accused was serious. Therefore, reasons for defense are untenable. According to articles 103 (2) and 56 (1) of “The Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China,” the judgment has been made as:
Shenglong Pencuo (Sonam Phuntsok), the accused, has committed the crime of advocating for separating the country. He will be sentenced for 5 years in prison, and his political rights taken away for 4 years. (The date of his sentence begins from the day of the judgment by the court: it is from November 20, 2000 to October 10, 2004.)
If the Accused does not agree with this decision, he can appeal to the High Court of Sichuan Province from the next day after he receives this judgment, but it must be within 10 days. He should hand two copies of the written appeal – one original and one copy.
Chief Judge: Pan QingJudge: XuJudge: Li YulanRecorder: Zhang Yi
November 20, 2000