Dharamshala — A group of 11 Members of the United States Congress sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday, calling on the Department of State to raise the issue of Tibetan political prisoners with the Chinese government.
'They have particularly specified three Tibetan political prisoners namely Khenpo Karma Tsewang, Lobsang Konchok and Thabkhe Gyatso,' Office of Tibet, Washington DC said.
"We write today to express our deep concern about three Tibetan political prisoners, while noting that there are hundreds of other documented Tibetan political prisoners currently being held in Chinese prisons similarly worthy of our concern and attention," the letter states.
"We urge you and others at State Department, the U.S Embassy in Beijing and the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu to raise their cases with the Chinese government, make every effort to obtain information about their whereabouts and health status, press for necessary medical treatment, and prioritize their release,"
Karma Tsewang is a highly-educated and respected abbot, whose detention caused widespread distress, with hundreds of Tibetans gathering peacefully to protest his arrest at a prayer ceremony, and a rare silent vigil on his behalf outside a prison after his arrest. He was detained in 2013 and subsequently sentenced to two and half years in prison. The details of his sentencing and charges against him are not known.
Lobsang Konchok, 40, a Tibetan monk was sentenced to death with a two-year suspension and his nephew Lobsang Tsering, 31, was sentenced to ten years for sending information regarding self-immolations in Tibet to Tibetans in exile. The Chinese authorities were seeking to suppress the dissemination of such information and claimed that the news was "used by some overseas media as a basis for creating secessionist propaganda."
Thabkhe Gyatso is serving a 15-year sentence for distributing Tibetan flags during the protests of March 2008. Thabkhe Gyatso, who is severely ill in prison, was also respected for his writings, which before his imprisonment were published in many local newspapers and monthly magazines. Gyatso was arrested on April 29, 2008 in Labrang, following the major Tibetan uprising in March 2008. The prominent Chinese rights defense lawyer Li Fangping was barred by authorities from representing him.
The Representatives stated that "the imprisonment of these individuals, who have so much to contribute to Tibetan society and who did nothing other than exercise their fundamental human rights is a grave tragedy and injustice. Again, we urge you to prioritize their cases in your discussions with Chinese officials and press for their immediate release."
Members of Congress who signed on to the letter include Micheal E Capuano, Christopher H Smith, James P McGovern, James F Sensenbrenner Jr, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Donald S Beyer Jr, Yvette D Clarke, Mark Pocan, Dana Rohrabacher, Peter Welch and David Rouzer.
Tibet was invaded by Communists China in 1949. Since that time, over 1.2 million out of 6 Tibetans have been killed, over 6000 monasteries have been destroyed, and thousands of Tibetans have been imprisoned. In occupied Tibet, prominent leaders, intellectuals, writers and civil society members have deplored the worst human rights situation in the territory, demanding of the international community that they should show solidarity towards Tibetans and put pressure on the Chinese government to repression in Tibet.