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Tibetan NGO worker given life in jail by China

BEIJING -- A Chinese court has jailed a Tibetan who worked for a non-governmental organization for life for passing on information about the situation in the restless region to the outside world, a rights group said. Wangdu was given the sentence last month, the International Campaign for Tibet said in a e-mailed statement, quoting a report in a regional Tibetan newspaper published on Nov. 8. Six other Tibetans were also given long prison terms, it said. The sentences are unprecedented in their severity for Tibetans accused of passing on information to people outside Tibet,” the group said.

“This new development indicates a harder line approach to blocking news on the current crackdown in Tibet and also appears to represent a challenge to NGOs working on the plateau.”

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950 and the region’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in 1959 after a failed uprising against Beijing’s rule.

Mountainous and remote Tibet was rocked by anti-Chinese protests earlier this year, which China blamed on the Dalai Lama, whom it brands a separatist. He has repeatedly denied the claims.

Rights groups say hundreds remain in jail following the protests where they are subjected to harsh treatment and even torture.

Still, the government expects the region’s economy to grow 10.1 percent this year, the official Xinhua news agency said, faster than the national average, though tourist numbers will be down due to the unrest.

“To cope with the challenges, the local government published a series of regulatory measures to keep the economy growing steadily and rapidly,” it quoted Tibet’s governor Qiangba Puncog as saying.

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