Tibetans call for release of popular anti-corruption activist who remains in prolonged detention without trial

A-nya Sengdra in an undated picture

Hundreds of Tibetans have submitted three known petitions calling for the immediate release of a local anti-corruption activist who has been in Chinese police custody since September last year.

Mr A-nya Sengdra, 47, was beaten up and detained by Gade (Ch: Gande) County Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers on 4 September from a highway intersection in Golok (Ch: Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo.

The petitions were signed and submitted by residents of three townships – Kyangche (Ch: Jiangqian), Gongmey (Ch: Xiazangke) and Ganglung (Ch: Ganglong) in Gade County. Kyangche is the hometown of Mr Sengdra. The contents of the petitions corroborate TCHRD’s initial assessment that the courageous campaigner was arrested on spurious charges that have nothing to do with “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”. Mr Sengdra’s activism had become a threat to the local authorities that are accustomed to corrupt practices of embezzling public funds.

Local Tibetans have questioned the legality of Mr Sengdra’s arrest and continued detention adding that many of the issues he raised during his numerous appeals to higher authorities have now been resolved. For instance, residents of Gongmey reported in their petition that after the arrest of Mr Sengdra, local authorities began paying housing subsidies and minimum livelihood allowances to the local people. Only last year residents of Ganglung began receiving compensation for appropriated grassland and forestland after Mr Sengdra launched his campaign.

All petitions criticised the local authorities for subjecting Mr Sengdra to prolonged detention and baseless charges. All of them called for his immediate release with some supporting this call with Chinese president Xi Jinping’s slogans on eliminating corruption and promoting a “moderately well-off society”. Regardless of the language of the petitions, the arrest and continued pretrial detention of Mr Sengdra proves that there is no rule of law and state-sponsored lawlessness reigns supreme.

The issue of Mr Sengdra’s arbitrary arrest and detention deserves particular attention and support because it involves great injustices done to disenfranchised Tibetan nomads whose population is fast disappearing due to China’s misguided development policy. First, without permission the government took away their land to resettle them. Second, the government did not pay the resettled nomads the compensation they were promised. Third, the already impoverished nomads were forced to pay illegal taxes to local authorities. Fourth, Mr Sengdra who risked all to end these injustices by peaceful means has been put behind bars without trial.

It is commendable that in the face of imminent government reprisals, local Tibetans have raised their voices against injustices and stood steadfastly behind the brave and inspiring Mr Sengdra. As appealed by residents of Kyangche, TCHRD calls on the local county police to refrain from subjecting Mr Sengdra to torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Since torture is widely used by Chinese police in pre-trial detention, TCHRD’s immediate concern is Mr Sengdra’s health and overall wellbeing. The prolonged pretrial detention of Mr Sengdra is legally questionable given that the longest pretrial detention period permissible under Chinese law is six months and that too when the case pertains to suspicious involvement in national security crimes. As is evident from the petitions, hundreds of local Tibetans stand witness that Mr Sengdra did not break any law and that it is the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party that broke the law when they arrested Mr Sengdra.

Below are the translations of the petitions submitted by the residents of Gongmey, Ganglung and Kyangche:

Petition from Gongmey Township

Petition Letter

To the Golok Prefecture People’s Procuratorate and Other Relevant Offices

A-nya Sengdra has been detained for [appealing for] the wellbeing of the ordinary masses and not for any personal reasons. He stood up in support of the livelihood of the ordinary people, the law of the Chinese Communist Party, and Comrade Xi Jinping’s legal system. He had no political intentions and has never done or said anything to protest against the government.

Since his arrest, our collective mind has not been put to rest. The reason is he was arrested for [supporting] the people. Since his arrest, the government has provided to the people numerous [facilities] that he had demanded. For instance, earlier poor households had to pay 10000 yuan per house to the government. Moreover, they had no choice but to build their houses on the plot selected by the government.

These days, all poor households in Gongmey Township have been provided about 50 houses and no one had to pay anything. Also the masses now have the right to build their houses wherever they like. And with much haste, the government has provided money to repair houses and minimum livelihood compensation. The masses know that it was A-nya Sengdra who made all this possible.

We urge the fair-minded Golok People’s Court, People’s Procuratorate, and their relevant offices to decide his case fairly based on karma and due legal process and not give in to baseless accusations. It is the fervent hope of thousands of masses that he will be released soon. Just as A-nya Sengdra had appealed to the Golok People’s Procuratorate, we are appealing for his release with the hope that you, our leaders, will give due consideration to the wellbeing of the masses.

Dated: 28 October 2018

This petition was submitted on this day by the masses of Gongmey in keeping with the law of the land.


Petition from Ganglung Township

Petition Letter

To the leaders of the Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and the Prefecture People’s Procuratorate Office and the relevant authorities of Gade County

Believing in the principle of ‘The hearts of the party and the people are one’, A-nya Sengdra raised his voice to support the aspirations of the masses and the party’s law. He did not engage in any rumours to challenge these two sides.

As an expression of his support to realise the goals of president Xi Jinping to create a moderately well-off society for the masses, he fought against corruption that has nothing to do with breaking any law.

As a benevolent leader of the Golok people, A-nya Sengdra has never wavered in his dedication to serve the nation even in the face of extreme hardships. He is an exemplary party member who has stayed true to his oath to serve the masses through selfless attitude. He is courageous person who walks the talk and harbours sincere motivations for the party.

In short, corruption is the root cause of obstacles for a [nation’s development] and a stumbling block to people’s quest to improve their livelihood. As president Xi Jinping has said, “When the nation prospers, there is wellbeing and happiness for the nationalities. When the people become moderately well-off, corruption will be eliminated.” Taking these words into consideration, it is clear that A-nya Sengdra has proved his sincere motivation to courageously work for the wellbeing of the masses despite extreme hardships.

Since 2010, other township governments have paid monetary subsidies to nomads to compensate for [appropriated] forestland and grassland by transferring money to bank accounts of each household. But for all these years the leaders of our Ganglung Township have not made any payments to the masses.

Due to A-nya Sengdra’s effective and sustained appeals, this year local nomads of Ganglung received their grassland compensation money. This is A-nya Sengdra’s achievement.

Previously the masses in Ganglung had to pay annual taxes to the township government. This practice of extracting taxes from the local people was prevalent not only in Ganglung but also in other townships. It only exposes the greed of [local authorities] to embezzle the property of the masses. Since A-nya Sengdra launched his campaign to expose corrupt practices and appealed to the higher authorities, all the reasons for which the masses had to pay taxes to the government disappeared. This is A-nya Sengdra’s achievement.

A-nya Sengdra’s main objective is to publicise all the legal provisions of the country in order to educate the masses and enhance their capacity to serve the Chinese Communist Party. By exposing corruption and striving not to waste the benefits and wealth given by Xi Jinping and the party to the masses, he contributed to the party.

This is not the first time that he was arrested on baseless charges for fighting corruption.

The main hope and wish of the masses of Ganglung is to see A-nya Sengdra released from detention and for Golok leaders to seriously consider granting “party’s love” to the masses.

Petition submitted to the Golok government by many people from Ganglung Township on 19 November 2018

Petition from Kyangche Township

Petition letter

To the leaders of Chinese Communist Party and relevant officers

A-nya Sengdra is highly respected in Kyangche Township. He only appealed on behalf of the ordinary masses demanding the payment of various funds such as housing funds for the local people. Therefore, we urge that he is not subjected to torture and beatings and that he is released from detention at the earliest.

2018 [month and date not available]

We are requesting on behalf of all the ordinary masses.


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