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Four monks jailed for prayers and writings about self-immolations PDF Print E-mail
[7 June 2013] Two monks from eastern Tibet have been imprisoned for three years each after holding prayers for a Tibetan self-immolator. Two other monks have been jailed after publishing books which contained politically sensitive material, including essays on Tibetan self-immolations. One of whom received a five year sentence, the other a sentence of unknown length.

Jailed for prayers
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Two monks jailed for leading prayers for self-immolator
TsundueTibetan monks, Tsundue and Gedun Tsultrim, were sentenced on 18 April by a Chinese court to three years' imprisonment on charges relating to organising prayers for a self-immolator and attempting to visit the self-immolator's family.

Tsundue, 27 (pictured right, above), and Gedun Tsultrim, in his 30s (below right), both from Bido monastery in Kangsta (Chinese: Gangca), Yadzi (Ch: Xunhua Salar) county, Tsoshar (Ch: Haidong) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province), were detained on 21 November 2012.

Gedun TsultrimOn 19 November 2012, a 25-year old Tibetan, Wangchen Norbu, died after self-immolating near Ganden Choeling monastery in Kangsta. Tsundue and Gedun organised a prayer service at Bido monastery for Wangchen.

Two days later, Tsundue and Gedun travelled to Wangchen's home to pay their respects and say further prayers. Before reaching their destination, Tsundue and Gedun, along with other monks and laypeople, were stopped by Chinese security forces. The monks then began a prayer service on the roadside, at which point Tsundue and Gedun were detained.

The two monks were held incommunicado for five months, and despite pleas from their families and community leaders for their release, were sentenced on 18 April at the Yadzi County People's Court. The both received three-year prison sentences. It is feared they did not receive proper, independent legal representation.

According to information received by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Tsundue was charged with being the main organiser of a prayer service for Wangchen Norbu on 19 November and for leading prayers on 21 November. Gedun Tsultrim was charged with helping to organise the visit to Wangchen Norbu's house on 21 November and for collecting donations for Wangchen's family.

Tibetan sources believe that Tsundue and Gedun may have taken responsibility for organising the prayers in order to protect others.

Information of the monks' sentencing only emerged in May. The delay is due to the Chinese authorities' restriction on the flow of information from Tibet, which includes the blocking of communication channels and a ban on foreign journalists.

This is the first known case of Tibetans being imprisoned for praying for those who have self-immolated. It is also indicative of the Chinese government's aggressive policy against self-immolations, which has seen heavy sentences and punishments for those associated or related to self-immolators.

In December 2012, the Chinese government announced a new charge of "intentional homicide" for those accused of aiding or abetting self-immolation protests. On 31 January, Lobsang Kunchok became the first Tibetan to receive a death sentence (suspended for two years) on this charge. Other Tibetans have received sentences ranging from seven to 15 years.

On 1 March, a monk, Yarphel, was imprisoned for 15 months for taking part in a funeral procession for his deceased nephew, Dorjee Lhundup, who had self-immolated in November 2012.

Further reading: ICT I TCHRD I RFA I Phayul
Download Tibet Society's report on recent political prisoner cases (PDF document)

Two monks jailed for politically-sensitive books
Gartse JigmeOn 14 May, Jigme Gyatso, a 36-year old monk and author, known in Tibet as Gartse Jigme, was sentenced to five years imprisonment having written a series of politically sensitive books.

Gartse Jigme (pictured right and in detention below), from Gartse monastery in Tsekhog (Ch: Zeku) county, Malho (Ch: Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province), was arrested on 3 January following the seizure of his third book prior to publication. He was sentenced by a Chinese court in Tsekhog county. The exact charges brought against him are not known, though are believed to be related to his writings. Gartse Jigme's current condition and whereabouts are unknown.

Gartse Jigme in detentionGartse Jigme is an influential and well-known writer in Tibet. Since the publication in 2008 of his second book "Tsanpoe Nyingtop" (translated as "Courage of the Tibetan King" or "The Warriors Courage") he had been under constant surveillance by the Chinese authorities and detained several times. Gartse Jigme had completed a third book (a second volume of "Tsanpoe Nyingtop") but this was seized by the authorities at the printers. Despite the seizure, copies have circulated underground inside Tibet and copies have made their way into exile.

Gartse's books include essays on the self-immolations in Tibet, the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan government in exile, education and language policies and minority rights in China.

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has translated an essay from the second volume of "Tsanpoe Nyingtop" in which Gartse Jigme explains his reasoning for writing the book.

"For the true values of truth, justice, rights, equality, peace and harmony, I sacrificed everything and wrote this book... It is my hope for the future. The book is not at all meant to prove my heroism. This book is a way out for me to shed tears once for the suffering of my ancestors. The book is not written to prove my scholarly credentials. It is a way out for me to shed tears for the pain and suffering endured by my fellow-countrymen."

TritsunTritsun, a 26-year old monk (pictured right), was also jailed following the publication of a book which contained politically sensitive articles.

According to Radio Free Asia, Tritsun was detained on 11 March, three days after he published his book "Breath of Truth". Sources told Radio Free Asia that Tristun's book was "dedicated to Tibetans who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of Tibet and included writings about self-immolation protests.

Exact details of the charges against Tritsun and the length of his sentence are not known. Tritsun is from Tongkyab monastery in Golog (Ch: Guoluo) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated in to China's Qinghai province).

Further reading: (Gartse Jigme) TCHRD I ICT I RFA I Phayul
Further reading: (Tritsun) RFA

Take Action
Call on the British government to stand up for Tibet. Write to your MP and ask him/her to:

1. Request the Prime Minister makes a public statement urging the Chinese government to end its oppressive policies in Tibet and respect the human rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people.

2. Call on the British government to work with other governments on new strategies that encourage the Chinese government to work with representatives of the Tibetan people in order to resolve the issue of Tibet.

To find your MP's contact details go to or use to send a message to your MP.

Click here for further details and recommendations on this action.

(Note: a detailed action on political prisoners, including those above, will be published soon.)

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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