BEIJING - Two people have been executed in China for their involvement in deadly riots in Tibet last year, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, the first officially confirmed to have been carried out.
The International Campaign for Tibet, which campaigns for self-rule for the restive mountain region in far-west China, said on Monday that Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak were executed for arson-related crimes committed in Lhasa, the regional capital, in March last year. Tibetans sometimes use just one name.
Tibetan protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule on March 14 last year gave way to torrid violence, with rioters torching shops and turning on residents, especially Han Chinese, who many Tibetans see as intruders threatening their culture.
At least 19 people died in the unrest, which sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas. Tibetan exile groups say more than 200 people died in the subsequent crackdown.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu did not give any details about the executions but said they were linked to the violence, which Beijing blamed on the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader. The Dalai Lama had denied responsibility.
The procedural rights of the defendants were fully ensured, Ma told a regular news conference. The two criminals who were executed had strictly conducted first and second trials and the Supreme People's Court examined and ratified the sentences.
Some exiled Tibetan groups have said that another two Tibetans were executed over the unrest that rippled out from Lhasa to other ethnic Tibetan regions.
Last week, 500 Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks and nuns, marched with candles through Dharamsala in north India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based, denouncing what they said were executions of four Tibetans for the protests last year.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ben Blanchard)