China executes Tibetan protesters

BEIJING: Chinese authorities have carried out their first executions of Tibetans in connection with the deadly riots that swept Lhasa last year, according to exile groups.

As the first reported judicial killings in the region for six years, the news has prompted overseas protests and concerns that proper legal procedures were not followed.

The Chinese state media

have yet to confirm the executions. However, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, based in Dharamsala in northern India, said it had reports that they took place early on Tuesday.

It identified three of the executed Tibetans as two men - Lobsang Gyaltsen Loyak and a woman named Penkyi. A fourth was not named.

The Lhasa intermediate people’s court sentenced the two men to death on charges of arson in April, according to Xinhua news agency reports at the time. Under Chinese law death penalty cases should be reviewed by the supreme court.

The Dharamsala-based group said the body of Lobsang Gyaltsen had been handed to his family, while Loyak’s ashes were given to his relatives.

The director of Free Tibet, Stephanie Brigden, said the

executions were an outrage. “It is impossible to have any

confidence that even the most basic legal norms were observed before the Chinese

state sanctioned and carried out the killing of these four Tibetans,” she said.

London-based Tibetan groups called for a vigil outside the Chinese embassy in London. Free Tibet said the executions, which came weeks after a UK Foreign Office minister, Ivan Lewis, made a rare trip to Lhasa, should prompt the British government to rethink the way it engages with China over the region. Meanwhile, MP Kate Hoey has tabled a motion calling for an inquiry into the government’s failure to secure human rights improvements in Tibet.