Tibetan entrepreneur and philanthropist Tenzin Choephel. Photo: TCHRD

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Dharamshala – Tibetan businessman and philanthropist Tenzin Choephel was arrested in March 2018, after more than a year in detention, he was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment and five years' deprivation of political rights, for allegedly "inciting separatism", "illegally sending intelligence abroad" and "financing activities endangering state security" by the Chinese authorities on May 24 2019.

According to the report, Chinese authorities in Lhasa, sentenced a Tibetan entrepreneur and philanthropist, Tenzin Choephel, to 18 years' imprisonment and five years' deprivation of political rights, for allegedly "inciting separatism", "illegally sending intelligence abroad" and "financing activities endangering state security" by Chinese authorities on May 24, 2019.

Chinese authorities arrested Choephel at Lhasa's Gongkar Airport on March 20, 2018. He was returning to Lhasa after a business trip to the city of Chengdu, Sichuan, China.

“Tenzin Choephel, about 45 years of age was sentenced on May 24, 2019, to 18 years’ fixed-term imprisonment and five years’ deprivation of political rights for allegedly committing various crimes including “inciting separatism”, “illegally sending intelligence overseas”, and “financing activities that endangered state security”. Chinese authorities also confiscated all of his personal property,” Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) reported.

“Following the sentencing, Choephel’s family filed an appeal that was rejected by the TAR Higher People’s Court in October 2019. The rejection of his appeal was a foregone conclusion due to the discriminatory criminal justice system, which is subservient to political and ideological considerations of the Chinese party-state. In practice, the right to appeal is just a paper exercise,” TCHRD said.

Choephel is imprisoned in one of the largest prisons in Lhasa, the Chushur (Ch: Qushui), known for imprisoning people who have committed serious crimes and those who have fought for Tibetan freedom and independence in the past years.

His outstanding work includes preserving Tibetan culture and environment, promoting unity among Tibetans, and other charitable activities such as helping the poor and needy in society.

Tenzin Choephel is from Tarchen (Ch: Daqen) Township in Sernye (Ch: Sèní) District, Nagchu (Ch: Nagchu) City, Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), in the traditional Shak Rongpo area of Kham province.

Over the past 70 decades, there has been ongoing political repression, social discrimination, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation, particularly due to Chinese migration to Tibet which is fueling intense resentment among the people of occupied Tibet.

The communist-totalitarian state of China began its invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.

Until 1949, Tibet was an independent nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse — a unifying theme among the Tibetans — as was their own language, literature, art, and worldview developed by living at high altitudes, under harsh conditions, in a balance with their environment.

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