I’m just getting word that Tibetan environmental activist Karma Samdrup has been sentenced to 15 years over bogus charges of political activities that defy even the cynical standards of the Chinese government’s crackdown in Tibet.
Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times had a great piece on Karma Samdrup and his brothers, as well as other instances of the Chinese government’s crackdown on Tibetan intellectuals, artists, and activists. I’ve seen a lot of crazy cases where the Chinese government drums up charges against Tibetan political figures, but the Samdrup case goes so far beyond what even the CCP does, that it is truly Kafka-esq. What makes it particularly remarkable is that Samdrup is a wealthy art dealer and environmentalist who is widely known in China and viewed as someone who has really worked within the system and did not engage in politics.
Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet summed up what’s happening with the current crackdown well:
Kate Saunders of the International Campaign for Tibet said the recent arrests of about 50 poets, bloggers and songwriters represented the most concerted attack on the educated and artistic elite since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976.
“It appears that almost any expression of Tibetan identity can be categorized as separatist or reactionary,” she said in an interview from London. “These are not angry monks raising their fists in protest but people working within the system who are engaged in work that’s essential for a healthy civil society.”
What is also remarkable is the extent to which a number of the recent cases of China detaining and jailing Tibetans have received a fair deal of international attention, including that of the writer Shogdung, the musician Tashi Dhondup, the blogger Kunchok Tsephel, and the film maker Dhondup Wangchen.
The Chinese government is petrified of Tibetans. That much is clear. What is frightening is that they are more scared of Tibetans than what the outside world thinks of their actions. Though, that may be a statement about how little the West is willing to pressure the Chinese government on human rights and political prisoners.