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 Monday, 27 January, 2003, 10:19 GMT
China executes Tibetan activist
Tibetan monk in front of portraits of Dalai Lama and Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, Bangalore
The case has triggered protests in several countries
China has executed a Tibetan man condemned last month for carrying out bomb attacks in support of Tibetan independence.

Lobsang Dhondup, 28, was executed on Sunday in a move which is sure to trigger strong condemnations of China's human rights record.

Activists have criticised the trial of Lobsang Dhondup and Tibetan monk Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche as unfair.

Their case was also raised by US Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner when he visited China in December.

Since the trial, it has come to light that China has arrested 10 more Tibetans in connection with a bombing campaign in south-west China.

Lobsang Dhondup did not appeal against his conviction.

China said he confessed to being involved in the 1998-2002 bombings. The court said two of the attacks were carried out in the region of Ganzi, near Tibet's eastern border. Another attack in April 2002 on Sichuan province's capital, Chengdu, left one person dead.

Closed trial

Thierry Dodin, director of the London-based Tibet Information Network (TIN), said that there was no way of knowing whether Lobsang Dhondup was guilty because he did not have an open trial.

"These are not the conditions that are favourable for trust given that we know that in many human rights issues, the Chinese state has not been straightforward, Mr Dodin told BBC News Online.

He said that China's official news agency, Xinhua, reporting Lobsang Dhondup's conviction on Sunday, said that the trial had to be closed because it involved state secrets.

"This is, to say the least of course, fishy," said Mr Dodin.

"On the one hand China seems keen on being better respected on human rights records, but if people are tried on this business... then we are back where we were 20 years ago," he said.

Plea of innocence

The court also upheld a suspended death sentence for Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche.

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, 52, had appealed against his conviction.

Last week a US government-financed radio network broadcast a tape smuggled out of China in which he protested his innocence.

"I was wrongly accused because I have always been sincere and devoted to the interests and well-being of Tibetans," Radio Free Asia quoted him as saying.

"The Chinese did not like what I did and what I said. That is the only reason why I was arrested."

Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche's death sentence was suspended for two years. Correspondents say such sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment.

Restive area

The town of Ganzi has faced repeated crackdowns by Chinese police trying to root out pro-independence activists.

The area has a majority ethnic-Tibetan population and has long been a hotbed of pro-Tibetan independence activity.

Western Sichuan was originally known as Cham and was historically part of Tibet.

After the Communists came to power in China in 1949, they amalgamated Cham into Sichuan province.

In 1951, China's People's Liberation Army invaded and occupied the rest of Tibet.

See also:

05 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
05 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
10 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
12 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
30 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
10 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
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