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Current Writers in Prison (11)

Dolma Kyab (born in 1976), a writer and history teacher arrested in 2005 at the middle school where he was employed. He was tried in secret by the Lhasa Intermediate People’s Court and was sentenced to ten and a half years in prison. In a letter smuggled from prison he stated that his arrest was linked to his unpublished manuscript “The Restless Himalayas”.

Dolma Kyab studied history and geography at Qinghai Normal University and graduated in 1999, doing postgraduate studies at Beijing University until 2002. In 2003, Dolma Kyab travelled to India and studied English and Hindi in Dharamsala. During this period, he worked on his manuscript The Restless Himalayas, which includes 57 chapters covering topics on Tibetan history, geography, sovereignty, democracy, Tibet under communism, colonialism, and religious belief. It begins with an emotional account of his love for his parents and country:

“I grew up in the cradle of my nation. I saw my people live in a higher place in this world. But when I lay on the ground to watch the world, I cried. Those tears were a reasonable response to what was happening in the world. I grew up with the love of my parents. When my parents’ foreheads were creased with love, I cried. These were tears of emotion. Therefore I decided that I would do something for my nation and people like my parents.”

In May 2004, Dolma Kyab returned to Tibet and started to teach history in a middle school in Lhasa. He also planned to write another manuscript which would focus on his increasing concern about he destruction of the Tibetan environment under Chinese policy, for instance pollution of rivers and land by uranium mining. However, “without even beginning to write the book”, he was arrested, secretly tried and convicted on charges that appears to be espionage.

In a letter smuggled out of prison Dolma Kyab appeals for help from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Click here for the original letter in Chinese. The English translation is as follows:

To the United Nation's Human Rights Commission, International Woman's Association, International Environmental Protection Committee and United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation:

“I have been sentenced to 10 years in prison and the main reasons are:
I have written an unpublished book titled Restless Himalayas about issues such as democracy, autonomy and Tibet. This was the primary basis of the sentence. Since, according to the law of China, this book does not constitute the crime of incitement of splittism, so they wanted to charge me under the crime of espionage, and without any proofs and facts they hastily announced that it constituted the crime of espionage.

Their (the court) reasons were following:

1) having previously suggested to the Tibetan government the need of strengthening the works of environmental protection and woman's health they subjectively judged that I was preparing for "Tibetan independence".

2) As I was planning to write a book on natural geology and without even having begun to write the book they again subjectively judged that I was providing intelligence to foreign power. What was even more absurd was that they deemed that writing on natural geology was also promoting "Tibetan independence". These preposterous assertions made me think of the famous 17th century Italian geologist Gallileo who was sentenced to death having angered the Pope by suggesting that the sun was the centre of the universe.

3) The sentencing was based on others' words and lacked proper investigation. They even forced through the sentence by using their power. During the visit by the United Nation's Human Rights Commission in Lhasa on 26th and 27th November 2005, fearing that the facts might emerge, they moved me away and kept me hidden.

Therefore, I contest that I was fairly and justly sentenced under the law. Even my works on protection of Tibetan antelope and promoting love out of free will in the pastoral areas were deemed to be works for "Tibetan independence". I believe that sentencing me for 10 years for works on protection of the environment, promotion of education on woman's health, family planning and study in the field of geology is unthinkable in the human history. They have taken away my freedom but they cannot take away my propagation of environmental protection and woman's health; they can kill me but they can not kill off my love for the geological science. The environmental protection, protection of women and exploration in the natural environment are the dignity of the human kind. I stand firmly by these beliefs.

I appeal to the attention and assistance of all the organisations on this matter.”


Protesting against the organizers of the London Book Fair 2012 who have not featured in their programme any writers imprisoned by the Chinese regime, this blog will be highlighting one such writer every day leading to the book fair. Although this will only show the tip of the iceberg of today’s ‘literary persecution’ under the rule of the CCP, I hope it will make more people realize the necessity of our daily question: Why haven’t British Council, Reed Exhibitions and London Book Fair invited Liu Xiaobo and other writers imprisoned by the CCP?


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