New York — A U.S.-based media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists says it has sent an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday, calling for a serious and thorough investigation into reports that authorities tortured Tibetan writer Lomig and asking about the reasons for his imprisonment.
"We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, international press-freedom advocacy organization, write to express our concern for Tibetan blogger Lobsang Jamyang, also known as Lomig, and to ask your government to disclose information about the reasons for his imprisonment," the letter notes.
In the CPJ' letter to Xi, they said, "News websites, citing unnamed sources outside of China, have reported that the Wenchuan People's Court in Sichuan province sentenced Jamyang to seven years and six months in prison in a secret trial. According to a relative of Jamyang's who lives outside of China speaking to the media, prosecutors accused Jamyang of separatism and of leaking state secrets. "
"local authorities held Jamyang for more than a year without informing his family of his whereabouts, in violation of Chinese law, and that he was tortured during this time, the letter said, citing sources with an exile Tibetan group.
"Tibetan writers have said they believe that his arrest and conviction were due to articles he published that were critical of the Chinese government's policies in Tibet, including on environmental degradation, restrictions on free speech, and the causes of self-immolations and other protests in 2008," Robert Dietz, CPJ Asia Desk said.
The CPJ also said that they find these reports to be deeply troubling, and they therefore urge you to instruct your government to disclose the following information:
- On what charges was Jamyang arrested?
- Was his family informed of his arrest? If not, why not?
- Did Jamyang have access to a lawyer or family between the time of his arrest and his trial?
- When did his trial begin? When did it end?
- Was his trial held behind closed doors? If so, why?
- On what charges was Jamyang convicted?
- What evidence supported his conviction?
The letter call on the President to launch a serious and thorough investigation into reports that authorities tortured Jamyang. "We also request that you instruct your government to launch a serious and thorough investigation into reports that security officials tortured Jamyang during his first year of detention."
The letter notes that Jamyang was one of 49 journalists jailed in China at the time of CPJ's most recent annual prison census, which showed China to be the leading jailer of journalists worldwide.
The open letter to Xi also highlights lack of freedom of information in Tibet. "We further ask you to remove restrictions on journalists' access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas of western China. Last year, three-quarters of foreign reporters who sought permission to visit were rejected, according to a survey by the Foreign Correspondent Club of China."
"CPJ has documented Tibetan journalists' and writers' being harassed and imprisoned for their work.Therefore, we also urge your government to respect press freedom and due legal process, and to abide by Chinese laws as well as China's international treaty obligations," the letter concludes.