Tuesday, May 15, 2007

About Dolma Kyab

Dolma Kyab (pen-name Lobsang Kelsang Gyatso) is a writer and teacher in his native Tibet. He is currently imprisoned at Chushul (Chinese: “Qushui”) Prison, which is located in a rural area south-west of Lhasa, Tibet. On March 9, 2005, he was arrested in Lhasa at the middle school where he was employed as a history teacher. On September 16, 2005 he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Lhasa People’s Intermediate Court for the crime of stealing and/or passing on “state secrets.”

Dolma Kyab has received an extensive education, having attended his local primary school and then his county middle school. He joined a Teachers Training Center in 1995 and taught at a school in Qilian County. He later continued his studies at Beijing University where he received a Masters Degree in 2002. In 2003, he traveled to India to learn English and Hindi. He is fluent in both his Native Tibetan and Chinese, as well as Japanese. As a writer he maintained a commentary manuscript written in Chinese, entitled Sao dong de Ximalayshan (“Himalaya on Stir”). It is comprised of 57 chapters written on various topics such as: democracy, the sovereignty of Tibet, Tibet under communism, colonialism, and religion and belief. He also began writing another manuscript which focused on his increasing concern for Tibet’s environment and makes mention to sensitive topics like the geographical alterations that China has brought to Tibet as well as the location of various Chinese Military camps in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

After his arrest on March 9, 2005, he was taken to the TAR Public Security Bureau Detention Center, also known as “Seitru” in Tibetan. He was held and tried for “endangering state security,” (Chinese Criminal Law, Articles 110, 111) and was convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. An appeal was made by his family and was rejected on November 30, 2005, upholding the 10 year sentence.

While detained at Seitru he contracted tuberculosis and his subsequent transfer to Chushul Prison was barred until he received medical attention. In March 2006, he was reportedly transferred to Chushul Prison after receiving some medical treatment.
There is no official information about the charges against Dolma Kyab, but in a letter that was reportedly smuggled out of prison Dolma Kyab states that his sentence is linked to his unpublished book. In the letter, he appeals for help from United Nations committees on human rights.

Dolma Kyab’s current conditions are unknown. A group of well-known Tibetan and Chinese writers have been petitioning for his release. Also, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) and the PEN American Center have been following his case.

Information in this post has been compiled from both the PEN American and International Campaign for Tibet websites (see links).

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