United Nations human rights experts called on China on Tuesday to release and drop charges against Anya Sengdra, a Tibetan community leader in Qinghai’s Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture now serving a seven-year prison term for complaining online about corrupt officials, illegal mining, and the hunting of protected wildlife.
"We are deeply concerned by what appears to be the criminalization of the legitimate work of a minority community member and human rights defender,” the May 19 statement released by five special rapporteurs and members of the U.N.’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said.
“We are also concerned about the reports of deterioration of his physical and mental integrity due to poor detentions,” the U.N. experts said, adding, “The charges against Mr. Sengdra stem from a wider crackdown on Tibetan minority rights defenders.”
“We urge the authorities to comply with their obligations under international law, including by lifting the charges against Mr. Sengdra. The human rights of the Tibetan minority must be fully respected,” the experts said.
U.N. signatories to the May 19 statement are now waiting for a response from Chinese authorities, Special Rapporteur for Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes told RFA's Tibetan Service on Tuesday.
"And particularly we are waiting for a response that those authorities will fully comply with their obligations under international human rights laws,' de Varennes said.
"The intervention from five United Nations experts is a necessary counterweight to China's rampant disregard for human rights in Tibet," added John Jones at London-based Free Tibet in a statement on Tuesday.
"Tibetans like A-Nya Sengdra are regarded as heroes in their community for their willingness to challenge wrongs such as environmental destruction and government corruption," Jones said.
"It is this bravery that has caused Chinese authorities to panic, to detain, mistreat and sentence him to prison after a sham trial."
"China must heed the call of these experts, release A-Nya Sengdra and listen to Tibetans' calls for human rights and freedom," Jones said.
Reported by Tashi Wangchuk for RFA's Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.