A Tibetan man detained in Qinghai on charges of disturbing social order after he complained online about corrupt officials is now set to face trial, probably within a few days, Tibetan sources say.
Anya Sengdra, a resident of Kyangche township in Gade (in Chinese, Gande) county in the Golog (Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was detained in September 2019 in a sweep by police of so-called “underworld forces.”
His case has now been sent to the Gade county court for handling, a senior police official told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“And in a few days, the court will probably order a hearing and trial, and a verdict will likely be announced soon,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In a statement on Nov. 20, defense attorney Lin Qilei said that Sengdra refuses to admit to Chinese authorities’ accusations that he is “causing trouble” in society.
“Instead, he says that his arrest was in retaliation for his relentless campaign to expose the illegal acts of local officials,” Lin said.
Court documents dated July 26 say that Sengdra had established chat groups on the popular social media platform WeChat titled “anti-corruption,” “environmental protection,” and “people’s petitions,” the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet said in a Sept. 3 report.
These had been used to “slander and attack the region’s political organization and the speech of its citizens,” the court documents said, according to Free Tibet.
On Oct. 15, the Gade county court held three and a half days of meetings to consider Sengdra’s case, but no formal trial was held, sources said.
Elected Kyangche township chief in 2014, Sengdra had previously been jailed for 15 months after raising questions about government corruption and served his term at hard labor, suffering damage to his health, sources told RFA in an earlier report.
Before his arrest in December 2014, Sengdra had questioned local authorities about their use of money assigned for projects in the township, one source said, adding, “He argued with them about the mismatch of funds announced by the government and what was actually spent.”
“This could have angered authorities and led to his detention,” the source said.
Development projects in Tibetan areas have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms and local officials of pilfering money, improperly seizing land, and disrupting the lives of local people.
Many result in violent suppression, the detention of protest organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government’s wishes.
Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.