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Jailed for having photos of self-immolators on mobile PDF Print E-mail
[21 March 2013] A young Tibetan has been sentenced to two years imprisonment after being found to have "political" images on his mobile phone, including the Tibet national flag and photos of two Tibetan self-immolators.

Ngawang TobdenNgawang Tobden, a 20 year-old student, was detained on 21 October 2012 in Lhasa after "political" images were discovered on his phone. The images included two Tibetans who had self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule, the Tibetan national flag and Tibetans being "repressed" by Chinese security forces.

Ngawang had been studying traditional Tibetan thangka art in Lhasa at the time of his arrest. According to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia, Ngawang was not allowed to see his family during his detention, nor were his family allowed to attend the court proceedings, raising fears that due legal process was not carried out.

Accused of "subversion, propagating incorrect political messages and  causing disharmony among ethnic minorities", Ngawang was sentenced in February to two years of re-education-through-labour and is understood to have been transferred to Toelung Shungpa jail near Lhasa. Further details of the trial, including the exact date, are not yet known.

Ngawang's arrest and sentencing is indicative of the Chinese government's new policies in dealing with self-immolation protests and "separatist activities", which includes harsh punishments for anyone expressing freedom for Tibet, criticises Chinese government policies or are associated with those who self-immolate.

Further reading: RFA


Take Action
Write to Mr Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK (or the Ambassador in your country), urging the Chinese government to release Ngawang Tobden immediately on the grounds that he has the right to freedom of expression, including the right to save images of his choosing on his own phone.

You can note that freedom of expression is guaranteed under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You can also add that you believe due legal process was not carried out during Ngawang's trial and that you understand he was not allowed to see his family following his arrest. Ask that Ngawang be allowed to see his family immediately and that he is not mistreated whilst he remains in detention.

In the UK write to:
Name: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming

Address: Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China
49-51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Note: The Embassy occasionally disables this email address (so your email is returned). If that is the case please try This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and/or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
If these fail please write a letter.

Outside the UK: check the Chinese government's webpage listing embassies for contact details of your nearest ambassador and embassy.

If you receive a reply please send a copy to Tibet Society; this helps us to monitor the situation.


Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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