On December 5, eight Tibetan students were sentenced to five-year prison terms for their involvement in a series of student demonstrations.
According to reports, on November 26 approximately 1,000 students from the Tsolho Medical Institute, located in the Tsolho, Tibet Autonomous Region, marched to a government building chanting slogans that called for “freedom” and “Tibetan language rights.” The students were protesting the release of government pamphlets that disparaged the Dalai Lama, called self-immolation an “act of stupidity,” and referred to the Tibetan language as “irrelevant.” Police allegedly assaulted a number of students and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Twenty students were hospitalized, including five in critical condition. Four students were arrested by the police. On November 28, students from the nearby Tsolho Professional Training School also launched a protest in objection to the pamphlets. The police again responded with violence, and arrested five students.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence and coercive detention against students. Students and other members of higher education communities have the right to engage peacefully in expressive activity, including protests. State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect students engaged in such peaceful activity. When state and university authorities are required to intervene in student protests to maintain order or security, they have a responsibility to do so in a way that respects institutional autonomy, academic freedom and human rights, including by refraining from excessive force or abusive legal process or detention.