Tibetan Jailed for 2008 Protests is Released Early From 11-Year Sentence

A  Tibetan man living in western China’s Sichuan province has been freed from jail before serving his full sentence for taking part in 2008 protests challenging Beijing’s rule, sources said.

Phakpa, a resident of Ngame Ajong township in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was released without explanation on January 22 , a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“He was greeted on his return home by family members and other supporters with ceremonial scarves and expressions of joy,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He was freed before his sentence had expired, but no reason was given for his early release,” the source added.

Phakpa had been taken into custody by Chinese authorities for his involvement almost seven years ago in widespread Tibetan protests against Chinese rule, and was later sentenced to an 11-year term, the source said.

'Ordered not to talk'

“At the time of his release, he was dressed in traditional Tibetan clothes and wore a mask marked with a cross,” he said.

“Local Tibetans believe that this was meant to show that Chinese authorities have ordered him not to talk about his experiences in jail.”

Festivities celebrating Phakpa’s return home continued for two days after his release, the source said, adding, “He was described as a hero and recognized as a leader of Ngame Ajong township.”

Meanwhile, Ngaba police in December detained two young Tibetans, one a student and the other a monk, apparently on suspicion of involvement in activities opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan-populated areas, sources said

The Dec. 27 detentions followed the taking into custody of another monk in Ngaba the day before for launching a solitary protest against Chinese rule on the main street of the county center.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 136 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karme Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.