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China executes Tibetan protesters

October 26, 2009

Exile groups report the deaths of four Tibetans linked to last year's riots
Jonathan Watts in Beijing
Guardian (UK)
October 22, 2009

Chinese authorities have carried out their first
executions of Tibetans in connection with the
deadly riots that swept Lhasa last year, according to exile groups.

As the first reported judicial killings in the
region for six years, the news has prompted
overseas protests and concerns that proper legal procedures were not followed.

The Chinese state media have yet to confirm the
executions. However, the Tibetan Centre for Human
Rights and Democracy, based in Dharamsala in
northern India, said it had reports that they
took place early on Tuesday morning.

It identified three of the executed Tibetans as
two men -- Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak -- and a
woman named Penkyi. The fourth victim was not named.

The Lhasa intermediate people's court sentenced
the two men to death on charges of arson in
April, according to Xinhua news agency reports at
the time. Under Chinese law, death penalty cases
should be reviewed by the supreme court.

The Dharamsala-based group said the body of
Lobsang Gyaltsen had been handed to his family,
while Loyak's ashes were given to his relatives.

The director of Free Tibet, Stephanie Brigden,
said the executions were an outrage. "It is
impossible to have any confidence that even the
most basic legal norms were observed before the
Chinese state sanctioned and carried out the
killing of these four Tibetans," she said.

London-based Tibetan groups called for a vigil
outside the Chinese embassy. Free Tibet said the
executions, which came just weeks after a Foreign
Office minister, Ivan Lewis, made a rare trip to
Lhasa, should prompt the British government to
rethink the way it engages with China over the region.

Labour MP Kate Hoey has tabled an early day
motion calling for an inquiry into the UK
government's failure to secure human rights improvements in Tibet.

A US congressional commission will publish a
study of Tibet next week which finds Chinese
officials are strengthening efforts to separate
Tibetan Buddhists from the Dalai Lama, and
preparing to select his successor. However the
study also notes that the Dalai Lama's
willingness to restrict discussions only to areas
that China considers part of Tibet have opened up
an unprecedented opportunity for progress.

In a separate case, Reporters Without Borders
called for the release of three Tibetans who have
been held since 1 October for allegedly sending
information about Tibet to contacts abroad via the internet.

It said the three have not been permitted to
contact their families during detentions.

"The internet is monitored, censored and
manipulated more in Tibet than in other Chinese
provinces," Reporters Without Borders said.
"Despite the risks, Tibetan internet users
continue to transmit information, especially to
the diaspora and human rights groups. It is
deplorable that the Chinese police devote so much
energy to identifying and arresting ordinary internet users."
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