Rights Group: China Confirms Execution of 2 Tibetans in Lhasa བོད་སྐད།

A group that monitors human rights in Tibet says the Chinese embassy in London has confirmed that two Tibetans were executed in Lhasa because of their alleged role in protests and rioting last year.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu confirmed the two executions when asked about them by reporters, but he refused to give details.

The International Campaign for Tibet says two men, identified as Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, were sentenced to death in April for "starting fatal fires" during demonstrations on March 14, 2008 in Tibet's capital.

The rights group says the official confirmation came after a British official condemned the executions during his visit to Lhasa in September.

That official, British Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis, issued a statement late last week in response to the executions. Lewis says that while Britain respects China's right to bring those responsible for violence in Tibet last year to justice, it opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.

Lewis adds that the British government has consistently raised its concern about the lack of due process in such cases.

The International Campaign for Tibet says the death sentences are part of a larger crackdown by Chinese authorities that began last year following a wave of deadly antigovernment protests.

The group says the executions are the first known incidents where capital punishment was carried out in connection with the March 14 riot.

Chinese officials say 22 people died, but Tibetan exiles say more than 200 Tibetans were killed in Tibet and adjoining areas during China's crackdown on antigovernment protesters.

The Tibetan government in exile accuses Beijing of trying to force ethnic Tibetans from their ancestral lands in order to extract minerals and other resources from the region.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and ICT Press Release.