Group: Founder of Tibetan Web site gets 15 years

AP News
Posted: Nov 16, 2009 11:42 PM

The founder of a Tibetan literary Web site was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of disclosing state secrets, an overseas monitoring group said Tuesday.

Kunchok Tsephel, 39, was convicted and sentenced Nov. 12 after a closed-door trial at the Intermediate People's Court of Gannan prefecture in southwestern Gansu province, according to reports from Tibet received by Tibetan exiles, said the International Campaign for Tibet, a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group.

Some of the charges are believed to be related to content posted on his influential Web site, Chodme, or Butter-Lamp, which promotes Tibetan culture, and also for passing on information about last year's anti-government protests.

Kunchok Tsephel, who has been detained by police since Feb. 26, had also worked in a Chinese government environmental department.

His family, who did not know where he had been held for nine months, was summoned last Thursday to hear the verdict, the ICT group said.

There was no official comment, and no way to independently confirm the court case.

Kunchok Tsephel had founded his Web site on Tibetan art and literature in 2005 along with a fellow poet. Authorities have shut it down several times over the past few years.

Last year, mass anti-government protests broke out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and in Tibetan communities in surrounding provinces. The occasionally violent demonstrations were the most sustained unrest in the region since the late 1980s.

Tibetan resentment against Chinese rule has been fueled by religious restrictions and competition for resources with migrants from the Han Chinese majority. Similar grievances fed ethnic rioting this year in the neighboring heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang that left nearly 200 dead.

The government says it has spent billions improving living conditions in minority areas and respects their rights.

In the wake of the Tibet protests, the Chinese government installed a heavy security presence in the region, arresting thousands in connection with the unrest.


On the Net:

Chodme, (in Tibetan)