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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Open up Tibet's Trials

April 17, 2009

We call on China to overturn the decision to
execute two more Tibetan protesters and open its
courts to international scrutiny
Václav Havel, Prince Hassan Bin Talal, Desmond
Tutu, Vartan Gregorian and Yohei Sasakawa
Guardian (UK)
April 15, 2009

On 8 April, two Tibetans, Lobsang Gyaltsen and
Loyak, were sentenced to death by the Municipal
Intermediate People's Court in Lhasa. Both men
were convicted of committing arson that caused
death against Chinese-owned businesses. Another
two Tibetan activists, Tenzin Phuntsok and
Kangtsuk, received a suspended death sentence,
and a third, Dawa Sangpo, was sentenced by the same court to life imprisonment.

These latest verdicts are the first death
sentences meted out by Chinese courts to those
who took part in protests that swept Lhasa and
other Tibetan cities in the spring of 2008. Since
these trials took place in complete isolation
from the rest of the world, with no impartial
observers or foreign journalists present, it is
to be doubted, strongly, that the defendants
received anything remotely like a fair trial in
accordance with international judicial standards.

We therefore appeal to the authorities of the
People's Republic of China to rescind the
decision to execute these protesters, and to
provide them with an opportunity to be re-tried
in a judicial process that is more in keeping
with the international standards that China says
that it adheres to. And the first standard that
must be met is that the trial, first of all, must
be verifiable and open to international observation.

But beyond the grim fates of those sentenced by
the Tibetan court to death or life imprisonment
for the protests that took place a year ago, we
are also concerned about the hundreds of other
detained protesters who have yet to be tried by
the Municipal Court in Lhasa. It is our belief
that the recent death sentences could mark the
onset of an avalanche of highly doubtful court
rulings in Tibet, which could lead to a worrying
number of executions in that tense and troubled region.

If China is to gain an international position of
respect commensurate with its position in the
world economy, as well as to benefit from its
rise to pre-eminence among the world economic
powers, it is vital that China's representatives
in Tibet acknowledge the need for due legal
process for all of its citizens, including its ethnic minorities.

Tied to that sense of due process of law is a
call for the Chinese leadership to allow
representatives of the international community to
have access to Tibet and its adjoining provinces.
For these provinces have now been, for the most
part, cut off from international observation ever
since the protests that racked Tibet last spring.

Only by making its rule in Tibet more transparent
for the rest of the world can the government of
the People's Republic of China dispel the dark
shadows of suspicion that now hang over Tibet.
Only by allowing an international presence to
report, dispassionately and truthfully, on what
is happening in Tibet, will China's government
dispel the idea that its continued rule there
means that even more severe human rights abuses
will be inflicted on members of China's ethnic minorities.

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