TIN: New Information Emerges on Sentence Reductions for Tibetan Political Prisoners

January 26, 2006

Tibet Information Network (TIN) has obtained new information about sentence reductions and releases from prison for several Tibetan political prisoners. According to the TIN report, the Dui Hua Foundation of San Francisco recently received an unprecedented amount of prisoner information from the Chinese government in response to longstanding requests. The Chinese response involved information about individuals who have been sentenced for crimes of counterrevolution or endangering state security. The response includes information about 13 Tibetans. John Kamm, the Executive Director of Dui Hua, stressed that not only did Chinese officials provide information about prisoners in reply to formal requests from other governments, but they also profferred information about prisoners who had previously been unknown.

The information elicited about the six Tibetan women and seven Tibetan men is a mix of new and previously disclosed information. Eleven of the 13 live in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and two live in Qinghai province. All the Tibetans from the TAR are or have been imprisoned in the TAR Prison, also known as Drapchi Prison.

Two other imprisoned Tibetan women, Thatso (Dacuo) and Thongtso (Tongcuo), sentenced in 2002 to three years and six months of imprisonment for "inciting splittism," received 10 month reductions and were released in July 2004. The official response confirms that Nyima Choedron, another woman prisoner sentenced in 2001 to 10 years’ imprisonment for "endangering state security," has received two sentence reductions, one year and six months in 2002, and one year in 2004. According to TIN, if an unconfirmed report that two other nuns imprisoned since 1995 have been released early, then Nyima Choedron and Anu, described as "an amputee seamstress," may be the only women Tibetan political prisoners remaining in TAR Prison.

The report observes that the number of Tibetan political prisoners known or likely to be imprisoned has declined slightly during the past year, from approximately 145 in January 2004 to 130-135 in January 2005. TIN points out that the total figure of current detention is certain to be somewhat higher. According to TIN, "This continues a trend that began in 1997 with steeply falling numbers as hundreds of prisoners completed their sentences while fewer Tibetans risked the severe, sometimes fatal, consequences of imprisonment. In recent years, the decline [in the number of current detentions] has slowed significantly."