Earlier this month, a Chinese court sentenced Gendun Dhakpa, 40, and Lobsang Sherab, 36, to five and four years in prison respectively for "inciting separatism" and "sharing information with outsiders".
The whereabouts of these two monks has been previously unknown since 21 August 2016 when armed police arbitrarily detained them. They were both taken from Thangkor Sockstang monastery, in Ngaba, where they lived and worked.
Even close friends and family of the two men had no idea where they had been taken or what condition they were in.
Free Tibet has repeatedly raised concerns about Chinese authorities disappearing and detaining Tibetans without any access to their family or legal advice.
In 2015, Tibet Watch produced a report which highlighted this practice as well as the appalling conditions and excruciating torture suffered by Tibetan political prisoners.
China has a long track record of subjecting Tibetans who they regard as ‘splittists’ to harsh punishments without giving any opportunity for the accused to defend themselves.
The charge against one of the monks has been publicly refuted. Immediately after the arrest of Gendun Dhakpa an anonymous source told Radio Free Asia:
He was focused solely on the work of the monastery and was not involved in any illegal [political] activities,
However, during the court hearing, the two monks were denied any legal assistance or the chance to present their defence. Their family members were also not allowed to be present during the trial and were denied meetings with the two monks.
Once again these sorts of judicial practices are to be expected while Tibetans live under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. Freedom House have said of Tibet’s judiciary:
Defendants lack access to meaningful legal representation. Trials are closed if state security is invoked, and sometimes even when no political crime is listed.
The disappearance of these two monks and their secret trail once again highlights the closed off and oppressive nature of China’s occupation.
Despite China's harsh military occupation Tibetans continue to resist and protest. Within Tibet, rightfully termed an 'open air prison,' Tibetans are punished with harassment, arrest and lengthy prison terms. Take action for Tibet’s political prisoners - write to the Chinese authorities and demand their freedom.