Saturday, March 29, 2008

Profile of Three Tibetan Writers Imprisoned by China

The following three Tibetan writers are listed on Pen American's site. I have not been able to find any names of writers more recently arrested. There are 43 Chinese writers who have been arrested in association with the upcoming Olympics. Their names are on the Pen site. The three listed below are part of Pen's advocacy cases for Tibetan writers. Like Amnesty International, Pen is responsible for the release of numerous writers unjustly imprisoned for their writing.

Dawa Gyaltsen Tibetan dissident arrested in November 1995 for writing pro-independence pamphlets which were posted in April 1995 as part of widespread protests against the Chinese authorities. Dawa was charged with carrying out “counter-revolutionary propaganda” and is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. He is currently being held in the notorious Drapchi Prison in Lhasa. He was reportedly severely tortured under interrogation, and has suffered numerous forms of abuse in prison, including beatings, psychological stress, and lack of access to fresh air. When he was first arrested, he was handcuffed and thrown into a dark room without food for ten days.

Jamphel Gyatso Monk from Drakar Trezong monastery in Qinghai Province, where he was on the editorial team of the monastery’s journal, The Charm of the Sun and Moon. Jampel was arrested on January 16, 2005 and sentenced to three years re-education through labor (RTL). He is currently being held in Topa RTL Camp at Huangzhong Dzong, near Xining.

Tibet Autonomous Region: Dolma Kyab
dulma kyabProfessional Background
Dolma Kyab is a writer and teacher in his native Tibet. Born in 1976 in Ari Village, Qilian County, Tsochang Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, he received an extensive education. Having attended the local primary school and then the county middle school, he joined a Teacher's Training Center in 1995 and served as a teacher at a middle school in Qilian County. He later continued his studies at a university in Beijing and in 2003, he traveled to India to learn English and Hindi. He returned to Tibet in May 2004, where he taught history at a middle school in Lhasa.

Impassioned by his interest in writing, Dolma Kyab maintained a commentary manuscript written in Chinese, entitled Sao dong de Ximalayashan (Himalaya on Stir); it is comprised of 57 chapters he had written on various topics: democracy, sovereignty of Tibet, Tibet under communism, colonialism, religion and belief, and so forth. Alongside this manuscript, he began writing another on the geographical aspects of Tibet, and though comparatively short, it made mention of sensitive topics, like the location and number of Chinese military camps in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). His pen name is Lobsang Kelsang Gyatso.

Current Status
Dolma Kyab was moved to the Seilong Labor Camp in Xining in early July 2007. PEN has received reports that he is in very poor health.

Case History
On March 9, 2005, Dolma Kyab was arrested in Lhasa at the middle school where he was teaching history and taken to the TAR Public Security Bureau Detention Center, popularly known as “Seitru” in Tibetan. He was held pending trial at Seitru on charges of “endangering state security;” on September 16, 2005, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Lhasa People's Intermediate Court. A subsequent appeal made by his family was rejected on November 30, 2005, and the 10-year sentence was upheld.

Upon declaration of sentence, Dolma Kyab was supposed to be transferred to Chushul (Chinese: “Qushui”) Prison, but prison officials refused to accept him because he had contracted tuberculosis while detained at Seitru. In March 2006, he was reportedly transferred to Chushul Prison after some medical treatment.

March 17, 2008:
PEN to China: Let Free Press Tell True Story in Tibet

PEN to China: Let Free Press Tell True Story in Tibet"

New York, Toronto, Stockholm, March 17, 2008—
Writers from Canada, the United States, and China joined today in denouncing “suffocating restrictions” on the press and on the flow of information from Tibet, where a week of protests and repression has reportedly resulted in as many as 100 deaths in Lhasa and other Tibetan cities. Warning that news blackouts, communications interruptions and censorship remove a critical deterrent to human rights abuses and increase suspicions of official wrongdoing, the representatives of PEN Canada, PEN American Center, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center demanded the Chinese government provide immediate and unfettered access to the Tibet Autonomous Region and all traditionally Tibetan areas in Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan provinces to international journalists; restore phone and Internet access; and end all domestic censorship of international news feeds and Internet reports from Tibet.

The Chinese government has long prevented international journalists from reporting freely from Tibet. For instance, CNN reports its crews have been allowed into the region only twice in the past 10 years and never without tight controls on conversations and interviews. No international journalists have been allowed to enter or report from Tibet since Buddhist monks staged peaceful demonstrations last week to protest continuing restrictions on religious and cultural activities in Tibet, and there have been reports of significant interruptions of telephone and Internet service in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas since then, impeding the flow of first-hand reports and other information as violence spread and the number of deaths rose. Meanwhile, satellite broadcasts focusing on events in Tibet this past week have reportedly been jammed in Beijing and other Chinese cities, and entire news sites such as the LA Times and The Guardian have been shut down, leaving China’s citizens in the dark about the unfolding tragedy.

“This is reminding us of what happened both in Lhasa in March and in Beijing in June 19 years ago,” recalled Dr. Yu Zhang, Secretary-general of Independent Chinese PEN Center. “As the truth of bloody Lhasa event in 1989 was little known beyond the region due to the governmental restrictions on the press, Chinese people could prepare nothing to prevent the similar bloodshed from being reproduced in Beijing and elsewhere in China a few months later. It is unforgivable to allow history to repeat itself when the whole world is now watching Beijing for its promise of the press freedom and openness once more.”

“‘One World, One Dream’ is the motto of the Beijing Olympics,” noted Nelofer Pazira, president of PEN Canada. “But it seems that Tibetans are not included in that dream, as the denial of their human rights and now this violent crushing of these protests indicate. And the rest of the world is not being allowed to know that.”

“The Chinese government pledged to the world that there will be no restrictions on media reporting and movement of journalists up to and including the Olympic Games—a pledge that’s completely undermined by its conduct in Tibet,” said Francine Prose, President of PEN American Center. “Even with the limited information emanating from Tibet, it is clear the Chinese government has responded aggressively to what apparently began as peaceful demonstrations. The Chinese government’s suffocating restrictions on news reporting only fuel suspicions that its actions go beyond what is necessary to protect public safety and amount to another violent crackdown on free expression and dissent.”

PEN American Center, PEN Canada, and the Independent Chinese PEN Center are among the 145 worldwide centers of International PEN, an organization that works to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere, to fight for freedom of expression, and represent the conscience of world literature. On December 10, 2007, the centers launched We Are Ready for Freedom of Expression, an Olympic countdown campaign to protest China’s imprisonment of at least 38 writers and journalists, including three Tibetans, and to seek an end to internet censorship and other restrictions on the freedom to write in that country.