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Harsh sentences and arrests for association with self-immolators PDF Print E-mail
[15 February 2013] The Chinese authorities have handed down heavy prison sentences to seven Tibetans for alleged connections with self-immolators. The sentences, ranging from three to 13 years, come as the Chinese government continues to intensify its campaign to demonise and criminalise association with self-immolators and self-immolation protests. Also, over 70 Tibetans have been detained in the Malho region of eastern Tibet in relation to self-immolations, with at least 12 formal arrests.

Page index:
1. Heavy prison sentences for six Tibetans after rescuing self-immolator
2. Uncle of self-immolator arrested for role in funeral
3. Mass arrest of Tibetans in Qinghai connected to self-immolations
4. 13-year sentence for attempting to incite a self-immolation
5. Tibetan jailed for consoling families of self-immolators

Heavy prison sentences for rescuing self-immolator

On 31 January, the same day as the first Tibetan received a death sentence on the newly created charge of "intentional homicide", six Tibetans (pictured right) were handed prison sentences ranging from three to 12 years for their connections to a self-immolation.

Six Tibetans in Labrang courtThe sentences, dispensed by the Labrang County Peoples Court were in connection with the self-immolation and death of Dorjee Rinchen (pictured right, below). The self-immolation took place on 23 October 2012 in Labrang (or Sangchu, Chinese: Xiahe) town, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Gansu province).

Dorjee RinchenAt the scene of Dorjee Rinchen's self-immolation protest, a number of Tibetans prevented Dorjee from being taken away by Chinese troops and eventually returned his body to his home village, where traditional funeral rites could be performed. It is possible the six Tibetans were in that crowd.

Four of the six Tibetans were charged with "intentional homicide" and two with provoking troubles. Those charged with "intentional homicide" were Pema Damdrub (also reported as Pema Dhondup, male, sentenced to 12 years); Kalsang Gyatso (male, 11 years); Pema Tso (female, eight years); and, Lhamo Damchoe (also reported as Lhamo Dhondup, male, seven years). The two charged with provoking troubles were Dorje Kyab (also reported as Dugkar Kyap, male, four years) and Yangmo Kyi (female, three years).

It is feared that due legal processes were not followed in the court hearing. In such trials defendants are often unable to choose their own lawyers and confessions extracted under duress are routinely used as evidence.

The charge of intentional homicide follows an announcement by Chinas Supreme Court in December 2012 which calls for the aggressive prosecution of cases involving self-immolation protests. In a subsequent editorial in a state-run newspaper, it was stipulated that anyone who obstructs public security officers, medical personnel, or others from rescue efforts shall be held criminally liable for intentional homicide in accordance with the Criminal Law. (Gannan Daily, Translation into by Dui Hua - see ICT link.)

Further reading: ICT I TCHRD I RFA I Phayul

Uncle of self-immolator arrested for role in funeral
On 2 February, the uncle of Dorjee Lhundup, who self-immolated on 4 November 2012, was detained by the Chinese authorities in Rebkong. Sources believe Yarphel is likely to be sent to prison for his role in his nephew's funeral.

Dorjee Lhundruparphel, a 42 year-old monk from Yershong Monastery in Rebkong (Ch: Tongren), Malho (Ch: Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province), was detained after being summoned to appear at a local police station, along with Drayang a fellow monk (also reported as Rabyang).

According to local sources, Yarphel and Drayang were interrogated and then charged with 'illegal' activities, believed to relate to the carrying of portraits of the Dalai Lama and Dorjee Lhundup (pictured right), during a funeral procession for Yarphel's deceased nephew.

Drayang was later released, though it is not clear if he will still have to face charges. The current status and condition of Yarphel is not known.

In recent months, regional authorities have banned funerals and prayer services for those who die from self-immolation. Even visiting families of the deceased can lead to punishment.

Further reading: TCHRD I RFA I Phayul

Mass arrest of Tibetans
in Qinghai connected to self-immolations
On 7 February, Chinese state media announced that authorities in Qinghai province had detained 70 Tibetans as part of government efforts to halt self-immolation protests. The report quoted Qinghai's deputy police chief, Lu Benqian, as saying poilce had detained 70 "criminal suspects" and were formally charging 12 of them.

Lu Benqian is understood to be leading a special police team in investigating the Tibetan self-immolations. The report quoted Lu as saying, "Police will exert more efforts to thoroughly investigate the cases and seriously punish those who incite innocent people to commit self-immolation."

Lu then revealed the political and biased nature of the investigations, by following the Chinese Communist Party line of blaming the Dalai Lama and exiled Tibet groups for the self-immolations. "The Dalai Lama clique masterminded and incited the self-immolations," Lu said. He was also quoted as saying, "The self-immolation cases were influenced by the separatism of the Dalai Lama clique, as the Dalai Lama has prayed for self-immolators and Tibetan separatists overseas flaunt them as 'heroes'."

The report also carried stories of several self-immolators, claiming they had set fire to themselves due to personal problems and were "frustrated and pessimistic in life". Others "with a strong sense of extreme nationalism showed sympathy with the self-immolators and followed their example.

Further reading: Reuters I RFA I VOA I Phayul

13-year sentence for attempting to incite a self-immolation
According to Xinhua (China's state news agengy), on 8 February, a 27 year-old Tibetan man was sentenced to 13 years in jail on charges of intentional homicide and inciting split of the state. Phagpa was sentenced by the Intermediate People's Court in Malho (Ch: Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province).

It is probable that Phagpa is one of the 12 reported by state media on 7 February to be facing formal charges.

Xinhua's report said Phagpa was found guilty of indoctrinating Dolma Kyab, a 25 year-old monk from Dowa monastery in Rebkong, and convincing him "to self-immolate for the freedom and independence of the Tibetan ethnic group." Phagpa was also said to have promoted "Tibetan independence", given money to Dolma Kyab's relatives and maintaining contact with the Tibetan Youth Congress, an exiled pro-independence organisation.

There is no further information regarding Phagpa's trial and whether due legal processes were followed. Dolma Kyab did not carry out the self-immolation, but the report indicates he was arrested on 19 November 2012. The status and whereabouts of Dolma Kyab is not known.

Further reading: VOA I Phayul

Tibetan jailed for consoling families of self-immolators
On 8 February, a 60 year-old Tibetan was sentenced to four years in prison after consoling relatives of self-immolators and expressing opinions of Tibetan independence.

Gyadehor, a Tibetan herdman, was found guilty of inciting secession by a Chinese court in Malho (Ch: Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province). According to Xinhua, Gyadehor had spread opinions related to Tibetan independence when he brought cash and other goods to console families of self-immolators in November 2012. The court said he had committed a crime of inciting a split of the state.

No further details about Gyadehor or his case are known.

Further reading: Phayul

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