Tibetan writer 'jailed' over 2008 riot commentary

Rioting in the Tibetan capital Lhasa after violent protests broke out on 14 March, 2008 Riots in 2008 prompted articles in banned magazine Eastern Snow Mountain

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A Tibetan writer, Tashi Rabten, is reported to have been sentenced to four years in jail in south-west China.

The International Campaign for Tibet, a US-based campaign group, says he was convicted of editing a banned magazine.

Eastern Snow Mountain grew out of literary responses to the anti-China disturbances in 2008, the anniversary of a failed uprising against Beijing.

China blamed the unrest on followers of the Dalai Lama, who it said were seeking to separate Tibet from China.

The case against Tashi Rabten was reportedly heard at Aba Intermediate People's Court in Sichuan province, where the population is mainly ethnic Tibetan, according to a statement from the International Campaign for Tibet.

Aba is known as Ngaba by Tibetans. It has become a focus of confrontation between protesting Tibetans and Chinese security forces.

Three other Tibetans, who worked for the banned journal, were jailed last year on charges of inciting separatism - an accusation that the ruling Communist Party typically levels at Tibetans campaigning for self-determination for their homeland.

The Tibet Divide

  • China says Tibet was always part of its territory
  • Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before 20th Century
  • In 1950, China launched a military assault
  • Opposition to Chinese rule led to a bloody uprising in 1959
  • Tibet spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India
  • Dalai Lama now advocates a "middle way" with Beijing, seeking autonomy but not independence

The 2008 unrest was the worst in the mountainous region in 20 years - China responded with a massive military crackdown and closed the region to foreigners.

Beijing said at least 18 people, mostly Han Chinese, were killed, but Tibetan rights groups put the figure at about 40.

Many Tibetans say Beijing is attempting to dilute their minority culture, by encouraging huge numbers of majority Han Chinese to resettle there.

Beijing says it is bringing development and improving the standard of living in the area.

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