July 2, 2011 / 4:35 AM / 9 years ago

Tibetan writer jailed for 4 years in China: group

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Tibetan writer was sentenced to four years in jail last month after helping edit a magazine critical of Chinese policy in the restive region, a Tibetan self-determination advocacy group said.

Tashi Rabten, an editor of banned magazine Eastern Snow Mountain, was sentenced on June 2 by a court in Aba prefecture, a heavily ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan province next to the Tibet Autonomous Region proper, said the International Campaign for Tibet, a London-based group critical of Chinese policies.

China’s ruling Communist Party has faced persistent unrest in Tibetan regions of the country’s west, where many residents chafe at the government’s controls on their Buddhist religion and resent the growing presence of ethnic Han Chinese people.

The banned journal “was the first published Tibetan language commentary about the protests and crackdown from 2008 onwards, offering a critical perspective reflecting a prevailing sense of despair and loss, but also a way forward,” said an statement from the group issued late on Friday.

The statement did not say what charge Tashi Rabten was jailed for. But three other Tibetans who worked for the journal were jailed last year on charges of inciting separatism, an accusation that the ruling Communist Party often levels at Tibetans campaigning for self-determination for their homeland.

Calls to intermediate court of Aba prefecture were not answered and one staff at the Aba government said he had no knowledge of the matter.

Aba, which is called Ngaba by local Tibetans, where Tashi Rabten was sentenced, has become a focus of confrontation between Chinese security forces and restive Tibetans.

In past months, tension in Aba rose to their highest levels since protests turned violent in March 2008, ahead of the Beijing Olympics, and were put down by police and paramilitary units.

About 300 Tibetan Buddhist monks from Aba’s Kirti monastery, home to about 2,500 monks, were taken into custody in April, Tibetan sources told Reuters in May.

Chinese security forces clashed with residents who were trying to prevent the monks from being taken away for “re-education,” according to those sources.

China says the monks have been handled according to the law, and it says Tibetan self-determination advocates do not give Beijing credit for the big strides made in Tibetans’ living conditions.

Copies of the banned journal Eastern Snow Mountain were “among a number of unauthorized books and publications confiscated from students and burned by authorities” in Aba, said the International Campaign for Tibet.

Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa

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