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Tibet's last-known female political prisoner freed

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, June 29 (Reuters) Tibet's last-known female political prisoner has been freed but her husband remains incarcerated for ''splittism'', a San Francisco-based human rights watchdog today said.

Nyima Choedron was released on February 26 after her 10-year sentence for ''splittism'' was commuted three times, the Dui Hua Foundation said, quoting an e-mail from the Chinese Foreign Ministry in response to a request for an update.

Her husband, Jigme Tenzin, was jailed for life in 2000, but his sentence was reduced to 19 years in 2003 and by one year in 2005, said the foundation, which lobbies China to free political prisoners. His sentence is now due to expire in July 2021.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment. The couple was accused of having links to an anti-Chinese protest carried out by another Tibetan during the national minority games in Tibet in 1999.

Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1950 to impose Communist rule, but many in the remote Buddhist region remain loyal to its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India.

Chinese authorities closed the couple's Gyatso Children's Home in Lhasa as an illegal business and the housed children were dispersed, the foundation said.

The foundation quoted an unnamed source as saying Nyima Choedron is with her daughter, now 7, who was born before her arrest, and has visited her husband.

In a separate case, a Shanghai human rights lawyer who was released from prison earlier this month, is being kept under de facto house arrest, with police watching over his home and visitors barred from entering, Human Rights in China said.

The New York-based watchdog said Zheng Enchong was deprived of his political rights for another year after his release, but even under such terms he should legally be allowed freedom of movement and the right to employment.

Zheng, who had advocated on behalf of evicted Shanghai residents seeking compensation, served three years in prison on charges of illegally obtaining state secrets.

REUTERS SY SSC1202

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