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Tibetan monk sentenced to death for "inciting self-immolations" PDF Print E-mail
[31 January 2013] A Chinese court has found two Tibetans guilty of "intentional homicide" for allegedly inciting eight people to self-immolate. Lobsang Kunchok received a suspended death sentence and his nephew, Lobsang Tsering, a 10-year prison sentence. It is feared the two men were forced to confess to the charges. Immediately after the trial the Chinese government claimed the 'Dalai clique'* had masterminded the self-immolations using "evil and malicious methods".

(*The 'Dalai clique' is a collective term used by the Chinese government to refer to the Dalai Lama and his supporters, and is sometimes used to also include the Tibetan government in exile and the exiled Tibet movement.)

Click here to take action on this case

The trial,
which began on 26 January at the Intermediate People's Court of Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) prefecture, Sichuan province, is the first since the Chinese government introduced murder charges for those suspected of involvement with self-immolations. The trial has been widely broadcast and publicised in China via state-run media outlets.

Lobsang Kunchok & Lobsang Tsering at trialAccording to Xinhua, China's official state news agency, Lobsang Kunchok (right in picture) and Lobsang Tsering (left in picture) were charged with "intentional homicide" at a trial at the Intermediate People's Court of Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) prefecture, Sichuan province, which began on 26 January. Lobsang Kunchok was further charged with passing on information about the self-immolations, which the court said was used by some overseas media as a basis for creating secessionist propaganda". The sentences were announced on 31 January.

In passing the sentences the court ruled that the two Tibetans had "incited and coerced eight people to self-immolate, resulting in three deaths".

Lobsang Kunchok, a 40 year-old monk from Kirti monastery in Ngaba, and his 31 year-old nephew Lobsang Tsering, were arrested in August following a series of self-immolations in the Ngaba region. In December, Xinhua reported that the two men had confessed to their charges, admitting that they had acted under the instruction of the Dalai Lama and exiled supporters to coerce Tibetans to self-immolate.

The Chinese authorities are known to use torture to extract confessions out of detainees, and it is feared this may have happened in this case. It is not yet known if any other evidence other than the confessions was presented at the trial.

Lobsang Kunchok & Lobsang Tsering at trialLobsang Kunchok (referred to as Lorang Konchok by the Chinese media) was given a death sentence suspended for two years and denied political rights for life. Lobsang Tsering (referred to as Lorang Tsering) was given a 10-year prison sentence and denied political rights for a further three years. [Note: The suspended death sentence will be reviewed in two years, at which time it is likely the sentence will be commuted tolife imprisonment, though it is still possible for the execution to be carried out.]

The trial was widely publicised in China via state-run television channels and newspapers.

Following the sentencing, the Chinese government reiterated its stance of blaming the Dalai Lama, his supporters and the exiled Tibetan government (referred to as the 'Dalai clique') for the self-immolation protests. At a press briefing in Beijing on 31 January, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, "We hope through the sentencing of these cases, the international community will be able to clearly see the evil and malicious methods used by the Dalai clique in the self-immolations and condemn their crimes."

The Tibetan government-in-exile (CTA) has refuted the allegations of instructing Tibetans to self-immolate and stated that such statements from a state known to resort to torture and detention of individuals without due judicial process can only be received with scepticism from the international community.

This is the first known trial where Tibetans suspected of involvement with self-immolations have been charged with "intentional homicide". On 5 December, Chinas Supreme Court announced that such charges should apply to anyone urging Tibetans to set themselves alight. The statement said, Those criminals behind the scenes who plan, incite, aide, abet... and help those perpetrating self-immolations will be investigated for criminal liability in the crime of intentional murder.

The Chinese authorities have regularly accused the Dalai Lama and "outside forces" of organising the self-immolation protests. The Gannan Daily (a state-run newspaper based in Gansu province), at the same time as publishing the Supreme Court's announcement said, The recent self-immolations in Tibetan areas are mutually linked to hostile forces in and out of China, they are plotted, organised and incited by separatist nations and are seriously odious incidents aimed at destroying ethnic unity and fomenting social disorder.

Further reading: Phayul I
BBC I China Daily I AP (all 31 Jan)
Phayul (29 Jan) I China Daily (27 Jan) I Tibet Society (21 Jan) I CTA (10 Dec) I Background to self immolations
Note: The China Daily is a newspaper run by the Chinese government.

Take Action
Write to Mr Liu Xiaoming, the Chinese Ambassador to the UK:

► Ask for full and detailed information about the trial and sentences for Lobsang Kunchok and Lobsang Tsering, who were sentenced on charges of "intentional homicide" on 31 January 2013 by the Intermdiate People's Court of Aba prefecture in Sichuan province.

► Ask what evidence was provided at the trial other than confessions from the accussed.

► Ask if Lobsang Kunchok and Lobsang Tsering had the right to independent legal representation of their choice, and to give assurance that torture was not used to extract their confessions.

► Ask for assurances that Lobsang Kunchok and Lobsang Tsering will not be ill-treated whilst in prison and that they are allowed family visits.

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. Further action points will be raised as further details of the cases become known.


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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