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China: Seven year prison sentence handed down to Tibetan human rights defender Mr Yonten Gyatso
Front Line Defenders has learned that Tibetan human rights defender Mr Yonten Gyatso was sentenced to seven years imprisonment on 18 June 2012 for circulating information re a self-immolation and attempting to share details of the human rights situation in Tibet with overseas organisations.
News of his sentencing only came to light in recent days. Yonten Gyatso is a monk who was based at Khashi Monastery in Ngaba, Sichuan Province.
The seven year sentence, which was handed down by Ngaba Intermediate People's Court, came after Yonten Gyatso was accused of circulating photographs of a nun, Ms Tenzin Wangmo, as she self-immolated on 17 October 2011.
In the last 18 months, self-immolations have become an increasingly common form of protest by Tibetans against Chinese rule. According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD),''' the charges brought against Yonten Gyatso also included “sharing information since 2008 about political events in Tibet by attempting to contact international human rights organizations” and “human rights mechanisms of the UN”.
According to TCHRD, Yonten Gyatso was detained on 18 October 2011 and was placed in the custody of State Secrets Bureau officers in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. While in detention he was allegedly beaten and tortured to such an extent that he considered suicide. He is currently imprisoned in Mianyang Prison in Sichuan province.
Yongten Gyatso is a senior monk and community activist who founded a local primary school to teach Tibetan, and travelled around the Ngaba area spreading knowledge of Tibetan culture and traditions.
Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing of Yonten Gyatso, and believes that it is solely motivated by his legitimate human rights activities. In light of the allegations of torture, Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Yonten Gyatso.