Beijing, Dec. 5 (Reuters): A Chinese court has sentenced to death two ethnic Tibetans accused of setting off a series of bombs in the southwest of the country near Tibet, a court official said today.
An intermediate court in Tibetan-populated Garze Prefecture, in Sichuan province, convicted the men on Monday on charges of detonating bombs, promoting independence for Tibet and illegally possessing guns and explosives, the official said.
Tibet and nearby areas have been hit by sporadic bombings linked to pro-independence forces fighting what they see as Chinese occupation of the region since the People’s Liberation Army marched in and imposed Communist rule in 1950.
The official said the court had imposed a straightforward death sentence on one of the men, who was identified in Chinese as Luorang Dengzhu.
The other, identified as Ahan Zhaxi, was given a death sentence suspended for two years. Such sentences are usually commuted to life in prison.
“I do not have any details about their respective cases,” the official said.
A statement from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Dharamsala, India, decried the verdicts and asked the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to intervene.
The rights group, which gave the men’s names as Lobsang Dhondup and Trulku Tenzin Delek, also known as Angag Tashi, said they were falsely accused.
“Trulku accused the court of false allegations and unfair trial proceedings and shouted: ‘Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama’,” it said. Police subsequently gagged Trulku Tenzin Delek, a respected and senior teacher, and dragged him away, the group said.
Blamed for blasts
The semi-official China News Service said police captured Luorang Dengzhu as he tried to flee after a blast that injured several people on April 3 in a square in the Sichuan city of Chengdu.
Police found pro-independence leaflets scattered at the scene, it quoted a local newspaper as saying.
Investigators later blamed Luorang Dengzhu and Ahan Zhaxi for a string of similar incidents in Garze’s Kangding county in which one person was killed and another seriously injured, it said.
Kangding was the site of a blast that injured three people last year and was linked by a New York-based Tibetan rights group to a crackdown on a Buddhist temple and academy nearby.
Chinese authorities tightened controls over temples in 1996 after four bomb explosions, a London-based group has said.