China releases Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab after completing ten and half years’ sentence
DHARAMSALA, Oct 9: A Tibetan writer cum history teacher was released from jail by Chinese authorities on Oct 8 after completing his sentence of ten and half years in prison.
Upon his return home, Dolma Kyab, now 39 was accorded a warm welcome by his relatives, friends and the local Tibetans who offered him ceremonial Tibetan scarves (khatag) as a mark of respect.
Doma Kyab a.k.a. Lobsang Kelsang Gyatso (pen name) was arrested by Chinese police on March 3, 2005 from Lhasa where he was teaching history at a middle school. He was 29 at the time.
He was initially held, pending trial, at the TAR Public Security Bureau Detention Centre, popularly known as ‘Seitru’. On Sep 16, 2005 he was sentenced to ten and half years’ imprisonment on alleged charges of ‘espionage’ or ‘revealing state secret’. Following his sentencing an appeal was made against the conviction but the court upheld the decision on Nov 30, 2005 and ordered him to be sent to Chushul prison located on the outskirts of Lhasa. However, prison officials at Chushul refused to accept him as he had contracted tuberculosis while being held at Seitru. It was only after few months of medical treatment that he was finally transferred to Chushul prison in March 2006.
In his letter written from prison in November, 2005 which reached Tibetan in exile, Dolma Kyab said that the real reason for his arrest and the subsequent sentencing was his unpublished book, Sao dong de Ximalayshan (Eng: The Restless Himalayas), a 57-chapter commentary manuscript hand-written in Chinese covering a wide range of topics including democracy, Tibetan history, Tibet under communism, colonialism and religion.
He had also begun writing another manuscript on the geographical aspects of Tibet that included sensitive topics about the location and number of Chinese military camps in Chinese occupied Tibet.
In the letter, he says: “They [Chinese officials] think that what I wrote about nature and geography was also connected to Tibetan independence…this is the main reason of my conviction, but according to Chinese law, the book alone would not justify such a sentence. So they announced that I am guilty of the crime of espionage.”
Dolma Kyab was born in 1976 to Mr Khetsun and Mrs Dolma in Dronglung (earlier known as Arig) village in Dhola county, Tsochang prefecture in traditional Amdo province.
After completing his schooling in 1995, he joined a Teachers Training Centre and served as a teacher in a Middle School in Dhola county. He completed his graduation from Qinghai Normal University in 1999 where he studied history and geography. He later went to Beijing University to continue his studies until 2002.
In 2003, he came to India and learned English and Hindi at Tibetan Transit School located near Dharamsala. He returned back to Tibet in May 2004 and taught history at a Middle School in Lhasa until the day of his arrest.