International PEN protests the 15- and five-year prison sentences handed down to Tibetan Internet writers Kunchok Tsephel and Kunga Tseyang in mid-November 2009. PEN considers their convictions to be a direct violation of their right to freedom of expression and opinion under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.  We call for their immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

Kunchok Tsephel, aged 39, is an Internet writer and the founder and editor of the Tibetan language web site Chomei (Butter Lamp), which promotes Tibetan culture and literature. He also works as an environmental officer for the Chinese government. On November 12, 2009, he 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 (TAP), Gansu Province, on February 26, 2009. His family was not told of his whereabouts until summoned to court on November 12, 2009, to hear the verdict. The trial was held at the Intermediate People’s Court of Kanlho, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province, in a closed-door hearing.

The same day, Kunga Tseyang, a 20-year-old monk and Internet writer from Amdo Labrang Monastery in Gansu Province who is also an environmentalist and photographer, was sentenced to five years in prison, also for “disclosing state secrets,” for essays he had posted on the Internet about Tibet. He has written extensively about Buddhism and Tibetan art and culture, including a piece entitled "China must apologize to His Holiness the Dalai Lama," which has reportedly been accessed by a large number of readers. Tseyang was 20 years old when he was arrested on March 17, 2009.

In March 2008 the Chinese authorities launched a crackdown in Tibet after anti-government protests were launched in Lhasa and other areas, with reports of arbitrary arrests and use of excessive force against dissidents. Tight restrictions remain on reporting from the Tibetan region, and were stepped up in March this year around the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the prison sentences imposed on Tibetan Internet writers Kunchok Tsephel and Kunga Tseyang;
  • Calling for their immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

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

Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Party Committee
Zhang Qingli
Zhonggong Xizang Zizhiqu Weiyuanhui
Lhasashi, Xizang Zizhiqu
People's Republic of China

Please note that there are no fax numbers available for the Chinese authorities, so you may wish to ask the diplomatic representative for China in your country to forward your appeals.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after December 30, 2009: ftw [at]