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China Jails Tibetan Environmentalist


Jul 27, 2009
United States
United States
BEIJING, July 3 (Reuters) - A Chinese court on Saturday sentenced a Tibetan environmentalist who organized villagers to pick up litter and plant trees to five years in jail for inciting to split the nation, his lawyer said.

The environmentalist, Rinchen Samdrup, is the third brother in his family to be jailed. Mr. Samdrup ran an environmental group in the Tibet Autonomous Region near Sichuan Province that organized about 1,700 local villagers to reforest the area and report poaching, and also ran a small magazine. His group worked with international conservation groups and was praised by Chinese media.

Exile Tibetan groups say Mr. Samdrup ran afoul of powerful local interests after accusing a local police officer of poaching.

Mr. Samdrup was accused of posting a favorable article about the Dalai Lama on his website, his lawyer, Xia Jun, said. He pleaded not guilty But the Chamdo prefecture court convicted him of incitement to split the country, the lawyer said, and deprived him of his political rights for three years. He has 10 days to appeal.

Late last year, Mr. Samdrup’s youngest brother, Jigme Namgyal, was sentenced to 21 months of re-education through labor for endangering state security for assisting Mr. Samdrup in running his environmental group. The court found he had helped compile three audio-visual disks on the ecology of the region, possessed materials regarding the Dalai Lama, incited locals to interfere with government work and tried to register the group with the government.

In June, Mr. Samdrup’s other brother Karma Samdrup, a wealthy collector of antique black-and-white Tibetan amulet beads who had tried to defent his brothers, was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a court in neighbouring Xinjiang for excavating and robbing ancient tombs, a charge originally brought and dropped in 1998.

Several Tibetan artists and intellectuals have been detained or have disappeared in recent months in what activists say amounts to the broadest suppression of Tibetan culture and expression for years.


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