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Monday, 25 February 2013

Tibetan Jailed For Having Photos of Self-Immolators

    Tibetan Jailed For Having Photos of Self-Immolators

An undated photo of jailed Tibetan artist Ngawang Thupden.
 Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.
Ayoung Tibetan traditional artist was sentenced to two years in jail with hard labor for having photos on his mobilephone of two compatriots who self immolated in protest against Chinese rule, according to exile sources Saturday.

Ngawang Thupden, 20, was detained in October last year in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), but relatives learned of the prison sentence for "subversion" only four months later, the sources said, citing contacts in the Himalayan region.

"His relatives and family couldn’t see him at all until he was sent to the Tuelung Shungpa jail near Lhasa," Tibetan Yeshi Gyaltsen, who lives near India's hill town of Dharamsala, told RFA's Tibetan Service.

"The relatives said there weren’t any court proceedings nor were family and relatives informed when he was sentenced,” he said.

According to Yeshi Gyaltsen, the relatives said they saw many other Tibetans, from the TAR's Chamdo (in Chinese, Changdu) and Nagchu (Naqu) prefectures, serving sentences on unspecified charges at the same prison.

Chinese authorities have been cracking down hard on any efforts by Tibetans to publicize self-immolation protests after steps taken by Beijing to stop the burnings failed.

Some 104 Tibetans have so far set themsleves alight in protests questioning Chinese rule in Tibetan majority areas and calling for the return of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Traditional art

Ngawang Thupden, who had been studying the Tibetan traditional Thangka art in Lhasa, was detained on Oct. 21 after Chinese security personnel discovered on his cell phone two photos of Tibetan self-immolators as well as those of a Tibetan national flag and "repression" by Chinese security forces on Tibetans, sources said.

"Owing to this, he was arrested and detained at Lhasa police station for several days and thoroughly interrogated. Afterward he was transferred to the Gutsa detention center and there he was interrogated again [for possession of the photos]," Yeshi Gyaltsen said.

"Finally, he was sentenced to two years imprisonment."

Ngawang Thupden was accused of "subversion, propagating incorrect political messages, and  causing disharmony among ethnic minorities," he said.