January 15, 2010

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our serious concern regarding the sentencing of Tibetan writers Kunchok Tsephel and Kunga Tseyang.

According to our information, on November 12, 2009, Kunchok Tsephel, 39, an Internet writer and the founder and editor of the Tibetan culture and literature web site Chomei (Butter Lamp), was sentenced to 15 years in prison for “disclosing state secrets.” Tsephel was arrested by Chinese security officials at his home in the town of Nyul-ra, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, on February 26, 2009. His family was not told of his whereabouts until summoned to court for the verdict. The closed-door trial was held at the Intermediate People’s Court of Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province.

The same day, Kunga Tseyang, a 20-year-old monk and Internet writer from Amdo Labrang Monastery in Gansu Province, was sentenced to five years in prison, also for “disclosing state secrets,” for essays he had posted on the Internet about Tibet. He was arrested on March 17, 2009, when police raided his home in Labrang. His family also was unaware of his whereabouts until he was tried by the Intermediate People’s Court of Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province in a closed-door hearing.

PEN American Center believes the conviction and sentencing of Kunchok Tsephel and Kunga Tseyang to be part of a widespread crackdown on peaceful dissent in Tibet, and is in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, as well as the Chinese Constitution. We therefore call for their immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all other writers detained in Tibet in violation of their right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

Secreatry of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Party Committee
Zhang Qingli
Zhonggong Xizang Zizhiqu Weiyuanhui
Lhasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
P.R. China

H. E. Mr. Zhou Wenzhong
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the U.S.
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20007
Fax: (202) 588-9760

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