Along with other countries, the United States has raised concerns over China’s execution of a Tibetan man following a closed trial. Lobsang Dhondup [lahb-SAHNG tuhn-DOOP] was executed on January 26th. He was convicted in December on charges stemming from bombings reported in China’s Sichuan [sich-wahn] province. Chinese officials say the bombings were acts of terrorism conducted by supporters of Tibetan independence. One person was reportedly killed and several wounded.
Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche [TEN-zihn DEH-lehg rihn-po-CHAY], a Tibetan monk, was also convicted in the case. He remains in a Chinese jail with a suspended death sentence. In a tape-recorded message apparently smuggled out of his jail cell, Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche denied any connection with the bombings. He said he has always spoken out against violence. He called for a thorough, unbiased investigation of his case.
U.S. embassy officials in Beijing repeatedly registered deep concerns to China over “the lack of transparency and apparent lack of due process” in the case involving the two Tibetans. Chinese officials denied a U.S. request to let an observer attend the trial. The case was also brought up when Lorne Craner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, visited China in December. The U.S. continues to be concerned about ten other Tibetans who reportedly have been detained in the same case.
The Chinese death sentences have provoked protests from human rights groups. As Bruce Van Voorhis of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission said, “As soon as the verdict has been given, oftentimes prisoners are taken to the execution field. . . . Especially in political cases like this one apparently is, there are very serious concerns about whether the person received a fair trial.”
The U.S. has consistently spoken out on the need to respect the human rights of all people in China, including Tibetans. Everyone -- even those accused of such serious crimes as involvement in terrorism -- has the right to a fair trial and due process of law.
Assistant Secretary of State Craner discussed this issue in December at China’s Xinjiang [syin-jahng] University. As he said, “There is no excuse for terrorism, no matter the cause. . . . But just as terrorism can never be a legitimate response to grievances, so combating terrorism can never be a legitimate reason to ignore human rights.”