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Monk jailed for seven years for sharing self-immolation details PDF Print E-mail
[22 August 2012] Chinese authorities have sentenced a senior Tibetan monk to seven years imprisonment for sharing pictures and information of a self-immolation protest. Prior to sentencing, Yonten Gyatso had been held incommunicado for eight months, during which time he was was beaten and tortured.

TAKE ACTION: please write to the Chinese Ambassador to the UK calling for Yonten Gyatso's release (details below).

Yonten GyatsoYonten Gyatso, (pictured right) a senior monk from Khashi monastery in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) county, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province) was detained on 18 October 2011, the day after the self-immolation of nun Tenzin Wangmo. During his detention, which was without any contact to the outside world, Yonten was beaten and tortured. According to sources quoted by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Yonten had often considered suicide during his detention due to the ill-treatment he was receiving.

Yonten GyatsoOn 18 June 2012*, the Intermediate Peoples Court in Ngaba handed Yonten a seven-year prison sentence on charges of sharing pictures and disseminating information of Tenzin Wangmo's self-immolation. Sources told TCHRD that Yonten was also charged with sharing information since 2008 about political events in Tibet by attempting to make telephone calls to human rights mechanisms of the UN. Yonten is now serving his sentence at Mianyang prison in Sichuan province. (Picture right, of Yonten behind bars, is undated.)

(*Note: this information was confirmed on 21 August 2012. The time delay was due to the Chinese government's crackdown in Tibet, which includes communication blackouts, aimed at restricting information available to the outside world on the current situation in Tibet.)

Yonten Gyatso, 37, had held various official posts at Khashi monastery, including chief disciplinarian, chant master and director of the Monastery Management Committee. Yonten is also a well-known community leader having set up a primary school and instigated programmes  to teach and promote Tibetan language, culture and customs in the local community.

Tenzin WangmoTenzin Wangmo (pictured right) was the first Tibetan nun to self-immolate. During her protest on 17 October 2011 in Ngaba town, she shouted slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama and for religious freedom in Tibet. She died at the scene.

Further reading: TCHRD I Phayul

Take Action
Write to Mr Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, urging the Chinese government to:
► immediately release Yonten Gyatso, who has been unjustly imprisoned for exercising his basic right to freedom of expression as recognised under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
► ensure Yonten Gyatso is not ill-treated whilst in prison and receives any necessary medical treatment for injuries sustained during his detention.
► respect the fundamental rights of the Tibetans, in particular the freedom of expression and to freedom to practice their religion;
► open Tibetan regions to international scrutiny, in particular allow access to foreign media, humanitarian agencies and independent observers.

Address: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China
49-51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL
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If you receive a reply from the Ambassador please send a copy to Tibet Society.

Tibet Society, the worlds first Tibet support group, was founded in 1959. Funded by its members, it has been working for over 50 years to seek justice for Tibet through parliamentary lobbying, campaigns and actions. Help keep Tibet alive by joining Tibet Society today. (Annual membership 24; Overseas 36; Life 500).

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