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Three Foreigners Expelled From Tibet for Carrying Letters

June 11, 1995

BEIJING (AP) _ Three Westerners were detained in Tibet and later expelled for carrying letters containing news of anti-Chinese demonstrations and detentions, a human rights group said Sunday.

Two French women and a Danish man were held for up to six days in separate incidents, and the women were strip-searched, the Tibet Information Network said.

One of them, Francoise Robin of Paris, studied Tibetan at the University of Lhasa and had been under police surveillance for some time, the group said, citing a Tibetan source.

Police stopped her at the airport in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, on April 29. They seemed to know she was carrying the letters and gave her luggage only a cursory check, Robin told the group, a London-based organization critical of Chinese rule.

One letter, given to her by a Tibetan nun, described a recent demonstration and included the names of arrested Tibetans.

The other letter was given to Robin by a tourist, Raphaele Demandre of Paris. The group did not disclose its contents, nor the destination of either letter.

Demandre and her male companion, identified only as a 39-year-old student of Buddhism from Copenhagen, were taken into custody May 13.

Chinese authorities say information about prisoners is a state secret, cloaking the brutality of their 45-year occupation of the remote Himalayan region. Reports of demonstrations supporting Tibetan independence and the harsh treatment meted out to activists are frequent.

Robin was held at a state-owned hotel for three days and was not allowed to contact the French embassy in Beijing. She was repeatedly questioned about who had given her the letters and warned she could not leave unless she complied.

Demandre received similar treatment, but was permitted to go out during the day. All three foreigners were expelled from Tibet, the group said, but gave no date when this occurred.