Dolma Kyab

In March 2005, 31-year-old writer and teacher Dolma Kyab (penname Lobsang Kelsang Gyatso) was sentenced to ten years in prison. Tried secretly by the Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court, it is believed that he received this harsh sentence due to the severity of the charges brought against him, including espionage and ‘stealing State secrets.’ The authorities, however, have not confirmed the charges on which his conviction was based.

At the time of his arrest, Dolma Kyab was a history teacher at a middle school in Lhasa. The charges against him seem to be rooted in the suspicion that he endangered State security in his manuscript Sao dong de Ximalayasha (The Restless Himalayas). Writing from prison in November 2005, Dolma Kyab attributed his conviction to this unpublished book, in which he writes in detail about Tibetan geography, history and religion. 

This book alone would not justify such a sentence under Chinese law, but, according to Dolma Kyab, the Chinese Government has also accused him of espionage or ‘stealing state secrets’, one of the most serious political offences in China. According to the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, this may be because Dolma Kyab’s manuscript includes information on the location and number of Chinese military camps in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Dolma Kyab’s writings are motivated by the desire to express the opinions of Tibetan youth on various issues relating to present day Tibet, such as human rights, democracy, literature and culture. It has also been reported that Dolma Kyab is particularly concerned about the destruction of the Tibetan environment under Chinese policy, for instance pollution of rivers and land by uranium mining. All his writings remain unpublished.

There have been several concerns over Dolma Kyab’s health. He reportedly contracted tuberculosis during pre-trial detention, and, after receiving treatment, he was transferred to Chushul (Chinese: Qushui) Prison in the Tibet Autonomous Region in March 2006. According to information PEN has recently received, Dolma Kyab was transferred to Seilong (Xining) prison, about 400km from Lhasa, on 19 July 2007 – a labour camp where prisoners undergo ‘re-education through labour’. A former detainee reports having seen Dolma Kyab there and states that Dolma Kyab seemed to be in very poor health, receiving insufficient medical care.

Dolma Kyab is an Honorary Member of English PEN.

To call for his release, as a violation of his right to freedom of expression, English PEN urges its members to write to the Chinese Ambassador in London:

Her Excellency Mrs Fu Ying

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

49-51 Portland Place
London W1B 4JL

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