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Protestor dies in detention; two others given harsh sentences PDF Print E-mail
[7 February 2014] A Tibetan man, detained in December 2013 following his participation in protests against Chinese mining operations in Driru, has died in custody. It is feared Konchok Dakpa was tortured to death. Two other Tibetans, Dorje Dragtsel and Kelsang Choklang, have received lengthy prison sentences for their alleged roles in recent protests in Driru.

Death in detentionHarsh prison sentences

Mining protestor dies in detention
Konchok Dakpa (referred to as Konchog Drakpa in some reports) was arrested in December 2013 and subsequently held incommunicado. Though the official reason for his arrest is not known, it is believed to be connected to his involvement in a protest in May 2013 against Chinese mining operations at the sacred Naglha Dzamba mountain in Driru county.

On 20 January, the authorities returned Konchok's body to his family and ordered them not to discuss the death with others. According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) sources, Konchok had been severely beaten and tortured during his detention, indicating this was the reason for his death.

Konchok Dakpa was in his 20s and from Chamram village in Driru (Chinese: Biru) county, Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Tibet Autonomous Region). His death is the second to have taken place in detention in Driru county in recent months. On 17 December, senior monk Ngawang Jamyang died in custody. Sources said his body clearly showed he had been beaten to death.

Further reading: TCHRD I RFA

Harsh prison sentences for two Tibetans

Dorje DragtselA Tibetan layman, Dorje Dragtsel (pictured right), has been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for his alleged role in protests in Driru county. The trial is understood to have taken place in January, however, exact details of the charges and the trial are not known.

Earlier reports indicated Dorje had been identified by the authorities as leading local resistance against orders to fly the Chinese flag from homes at the end of September. However, TCHRD sources now indicate he may have been charged with organising the May 2013 mining protest.

Dorje Dragtsel was initially detained on 3 October 2013. His arrest triggered a protest on 6 October by local Tibetans demanding his release. Chinese security forces violently suppressed the protest, injuring at least 60 Tibetans.

Kelsang ChoklangA monk from Tarmoe monastery, Kelsang Choklang
(pictured right), has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Kelsang was arrested at the same time as Ngawang Jamyang, who died in custody on 17 December 2013. The sentencing took place in January but details of the charges and trial are not known. TCHRD sources say Kelsang was likely charged with illegally gathering a crowd.

Driru county has been at the centre of unrest for the past 10 months. In May 2013, up to 5,000 Tibetans protested at the sacred Naglha Dzamba mountain in an effort to protect the mountain from Chinese mining activities. In September 2013, a series of protests began after Chinese officials attempted to force residents to fly Chinese flags from their homes.

On 19 December, three Tibetans were jailed for their alleged roles in inciting protests against Chinese mining activities at Naglha Dzamba mountain. Choekyap received a 13-year prison sentence, Trinley Tsekar nine years and Tselha three years.

Further reading: TCHRD I RFA
Driru updates: Tibet Society - 10 Jan I 20 Dec I 4 Nov

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