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Tibet-RigzinDharamshala: - Chinese authorities had sentenced three Tibetans including a father of two to varied prison terms five years ago in Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai province, said sources inside Tibet.

The sentences were passed in 2009 in the aftermath of the 2008 uprising in Tibet, but due to the security clampdown and tightened control over information, their fate has remained unknown till today.

According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Rigzin Tsering, 40, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison, while Nyingchak Gyal, 44, and Tashi Tsering, 33, have been sentenced to five and seven years in prison respectively.

Rigzin Tsering, who hails from Rongtsa Village in Sangchu County, was arrested in April 2008 by the Chinese security forces. He was immediately taken to Sangchu County town, where he disappeared for almost a year.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on 24 April 2009. He is being locked up in a prison in Tian Shui (???) city in Gansu Province.

Nyingchak Gyal and Tashi Tsering were also arrested around April 2008. They were sentenced to five and seven years in prison respectively. The location of their imprisonment remains unknown.

Sources said that all three of them were arrested for their participation in a protest that occurred on 18 March 2008 in Sangchu.

"On 18 March 2008, local Tibetan men in Sangchu conducted an ancient ritual on the mountain of Tag Go (Eng: Tiger's Head). While assembling on the mountain, they decided that they must do something for the cause of Tibet's freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama. So they started raising slogans marched towards the local government office. The local cadres and police however dispersed the crowd of protesters, warning them of serious consequences," said the source.

Later, the Chinese security forces started rounding up the Tibetans, including Rigzin Tsering, Nyingchak Gyal and Tashi Tsering. Because of the severe restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities, it is difficult to estimate the exact number of people who were arrested at that time.

Rigzin Tsering is married with two children. Because of his arrest, his wife, Dolkar Tso, 41, now has to bear all the burden of their family.

"Dolkar Tso is facing enormous problems. Right from her childhood, she has been physically weak. On top of that she has two children to look after. Because of her husband's arrest, now she has to single-handedly look after the family farm and rear the animals. She is even forced to travel to other villages in search of work," the source said on condition of anonymity.

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