By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, Dec 29: Chinese authorities have charged former political prisoner Tsegon Gyal of ‘inciting to split the country’ two weeks after his arbitrary detention, Dharamsala-based Tibetan advocacy group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said.
Tsegon Gyal was charged with the crime on Dec 24 and a copy of his arrest warrant was sent to his family on the same date. He is being held in Chinese custody following his arbitrary detention since Dec 9.
“Chinese authorities charged prominent former Tibetan political prisoner of ‘inciting to split the country’ after holding him incommunicado for more than two weeks at Kangtsa County Detention Centre in Tsojang, TCHRD said.
According to information received by TCHRD, Tsegon Gyal has launched a ‘silent protest’ and refused to respond to the State Security Bureau officers who have been holding and interrogating him.
“Tsegon Gyal knows that the interrogation process is simply a tool for the state security officers to extract forced confession and that no amount of honest response would help him prove his innocence,” the TCHRD cited a close friend of Gyal as saying.
Though the exact reason for Gyal’s arrest is not known, if the charges imposed on him were proved, he would be punished for a crime of “endangering state security” that could result in a 15-year sentence.
Gyal was neither provided his right to hire a lawyer nor was his family members allowed to meet him after his arrest.
Tsegon Gyal, aged 53, also known as Gangshon Atse, was born on Aug 12, 1963 to a nomadic family in Kangtsa region in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo.
Gyal, along with Lukar Jam and Namlo Yak Dhungser were arrested by the provisional state security officers for setting up a group called ‘Associaton of Domed Youth Committed to Sacrificing lives’ in collusion with outsiders to organize Tibetan independence activities in Tibet in May 1993.
The Intermediate People’s court of Tsonub Mongolia Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture convicted Gyal of espionage and counter-revolutionary crimes and sentenced him for 16 years on July 28, 1994. However, China bowed to calls from the international rights groups and released Gyal on May 8, 1999 in a bid to present a favorable image to the international community to achieve smooth handover of Hong Kong from Britain.