This CPJ letter Chinese President Xi Jinping was originally published on cpj.org on 11 May 2016.
May 11, 2016
President of the People's Republic of China
The People's Republic of China
Dear President Xi:
We at the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, international press-freedom advocacy organization, write to express our concern for Tibetan blogger Lobsang Jamyang, also known as Lomig, and to ask your government to disclose information about the reasons for his imprisonment.
News websites, citing unnamed sources outside of China, have reported that the Wenchuan People's Court in Sichuan province sentenced Jamyang to seven years and six months in prison in a secret trial. According to a relative of Jamyang's who lives outside of China speaking to the media, prosecutors accused Jamyang of separatism and of leaking state secrets. The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy has further alleged that local authorities held Jamyang for more than a year without informing his family of his whereabouts, in violation of Chinese law, and that he was tortured during this time.
Tibetan writers have said they believe that his arrest and conviction were due to articles he published that were critical of the Chinese government's policies in Tibet, including on environmental degradation, restrictions on free speech, and the causes of self-immolations and other protests in 2008.
We find these reports to be deeply troubling, and we therefore urge you to instruct your government to disclose the following information:
- On what charges was Jamyang arrested?
- Was his family informed of his arrest? If not, why not?
- Did Jamyang have access to a lawyer or family between the time of his arrest and his trial?
- When did his trial begin? When did it end?
- Was his trial held behind closed doors? If so, why?
- On what charges was Jamyang convicted?
- What evidence supported his conviction?
We also request that you instruct your government to launch a serious and thorough investigation into reports that security officials tortured Jamyang during his first year of detention.
Jamyang was one of 49 journalists jailed in China at the time of CPJ's most recent annual prison census, which showed China to be the leading jailer of journalists worldwide.
We further ask you to remove restrictions on journalists' access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region and Tibetan areas of western China. Last year, three-quarters of foreign reporters who sought permission to visit were rejected, according to a survey by the Foreign Correspondent Club of China.
CPJ has documented Tibetan journalists' and writers' being harassed and imprisoned for their work.Therefore, we also urge your government to respect press freedom and due legal process, and to abide by Chinese laws as well as China's international treaty obligations.
Thank you for your consideration to this urgent matter.
CPJ Asia Program Coordinator
Cui Tiankai, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S.
Max Baucus, U.S. Ambassador to China
Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, European Union Ambassador to China