China executed a former Tibetan monk convicted of carrying out a string of bombings to protest China's rule over Tibet, a case that has prompted international criticism of China's judicial system and treatment of its restive Tibetan minority, authorities reported today.
Lobsang Dhondup, 28, was executed Sunday afternoon in Ganzi, a city near the Tibetan border in Sichuan province, immediately after a court upheld his death sentence, according to an official at Ganzi Intermediate People's Court.
The Sichuan Provincial High People's Court also rejected an appeal by Tenzin Deleg Rinpoche, 52, a senior Buddhist monk, and affirmed his suspended death sentence, the official New China News Agency reported. A suspended death sentence usually means life in prison.
The case against the two men has prompted an outcry from organizations committed to supporting Tibet. Last month in Beijing, Assistant Secretary of State Lorne W. Craner expressed "deep concern" about the severity of the sentences and the possible lack of a fair trial.
Tenzin and Lobsang were detained following a bomb blast last April in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. Lobsang was detained near the site of the explosion. Tenzin's links to the blast have never been clarified other than the allegation that he at one time served as Lobsang's teacher, Tibetan activists said.
Ten other Tibetans have been detained in connection with that blast and others in the region, human rights organizations said, making this case one of the biggest crackdowns in recent years on Tibetan activists. At least one person was killed in the attacks, Chinese media have reported.
Tenzin, who is a religious figure of some influence in the Tibetan regions of Sichuan, was held incommunicado for eight months until the day of the trial. Two prominent Chinese lawyers, Zhang Sizhi and Li Huigeng, were denied permission to represent Tenzin in his appeal process, human rights organizations said. Tibetan activists alleged that Tenzin and Lobsang were tortured throughout their detention and that whatever confessions they might have made were coerced. Human rights organizations say such treatment is common in China.
China maintains that Tibet has been part of its territory since the 13th century. Many Tibetans reject this argument and contend that Tibet should be an independent country. Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled China in 1959 following a crackdown against a Tibetan uprising that began near Ganzi, the site of Sunday's execution.