SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: April 10, 2013

Attack Types: Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Tsolho Technical School

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | China

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On April 10, 2013 eight Tibetan students received sentences of up to four years in prison for participating in protests.  The students were allegedly charged with “causing harm to social stability” by the Chabcha County People’s Court. It is reported that students Wangyal Tsering and Choekyong Kyap were sentenced to three years and three months; Kunsang Bum, Jampa Tsering, a protester identified only as Lhaten and two unidentified Tibetan students were sentenced to three years and six months; and Sangye Bum was sentenced to four years in prison.
The charges arose from arrests following protests in November 2012 when reportedly more than 1,000 students in the Tibet Autonomous Region protested a government pamphlet that disparaged the Dalai Lama, called self-immolation an “act of stupidity,” and referred to the Tibetan language as “irrelevant.” Students were assaulted by local police dispersing the crowds.  Many students were injured, including some  hospitalized, and several were arrested.  These four sentencings follow the earlier sentencing in December 2012 of another eight students on allegations arising from the same protests.  SAR previously reported on those cases.
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.