2009: Four Tibetans

On this date in 2009, China executed four Tibetans widely considered political prisoners.

The previous year, widespread unrest over Chinese control had shaken the country, most notably riots in the capital, Lhasa that targeted Chinese persons and shops.

(There’s a BBC page preserving a good deal of the original coverage here.)

Loyak, one of those executed Oct. 20, 2009.

The two most prominent prisoners — in fact, the only two confirmed in some of the first media reports — were Lhasa residents Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak. A court spokesperson said both had been “given death penalties had committed extremely serious crimes and have to be executed to assuage the people’s anger.”

Specifically, both had been convicted of torching shops during the Lhasa riots, which arsons both led to deaths.

The other two executed, a woman named Penki (also for arson) and an unnamed man, received less comment, although they might have been executed despite having been condemned only to a “suspended” death sentence, which for China is generally no death sentence at all.

Executions in Tibet turn out to be relatively rare; these were the first known Tibetan executions since early 2003. Widely condemned abroad, this date’s events were barely or not at all reported internally by Chinese state media.

Part of the Themed Set: Illegitimate Power.

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