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Six sentenced for association with self-immolation protests PDF Print E-mail
[13 August 2013] Chinese courts have sentenced six Tibetans to prison sentences for their connections to self-immolation protests. The punishments included a ten-year sentence on charges of "intentional homicide" and a four-year sentence for admitting to organising prayers and donating money to families of self-immolators.

Tsultrim Kalsang  I  Aku Gyatak  I  Dorjee  I  Doptrug, Ugyen Dorjee & Choekyab

Tsultrim Kalsang
Tsultrim KalsangTsultrim Kalsang, a 25 year-old monk, was sentenced on 12 July to ten years in prison on charges of "intentional homicide". Tsultrim, from Zilkar monastery in Zatoe town (Chinese: Zaduo), Tridu (Ch: Chenduo) county, Jyekundo (Ch: Yushu) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into Qinghai province), was sentenced by the Intermediate People's Court in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province.

Full details of Tsultrim's case are not known, but it is believed the charges are related to the joint self-immolation protest of Ngawang Norphel and Tenzin Khedup on 30 June 2012. Sources quoted by Radio Free Asia said that Tsultrim was sentenced for "triple homicide" indicating a connection to a further self-immolation, though no further details were available.

Tsultrim was detained on 1 September 2012 along with four other monks following a major raid on Zilkar monastery by Chinese security forces. It is believed all five were initially detained for their role in a peaceful protest held by Zilkar monks on 8 February 2012. Three were imprisoned on charges assumed to be related to the protest in February 2012. Sonam Sherab and Sonam Yingyen both received two year prison sentences in October 2012 and Lobsang Jinpa was sentenced to five years on 23 February 2013. The fate of the fifth monk monk, Ngawang Monlam, is not known.

Tsultrim had previously studied at Sera monastery in Lhasa but was forced to return to his home after being detained for six months for his involvement in protests in 2008. Since his return to Zatoe, Tsultrim has been involved in teaching Tibetan at Zilkar monastery and in 2011 was appointed a lecturer.

The Chinese government introduced the charge of "intentional homicide" in December 2012 to be used against anyone considered to be aiding or abetting self-immolation protest. On 31 January 2013, Lobsang Kunchok received a death sentence suspended for two years for his alleged role in a self-immolation. His sentencing was based on a confession most likely extracted by torture. No other evidence has been produced by the Chinese authorities.

Further reading: RFA I TCHRD I Phayul

Aku Gyatak
Aku Gyatak received a four-year prison sentence for organising gatherings and prayers following self-immolations and offering condolences to the families of self-immolators.

Aku Gyatak, from Dowa township, Rebkong (Ch: Tongren) county, Malho (Huangnan) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Qinghai province), was sentenced on 8 February 2013 by the Malho Intermediate People's Court. The 63 year-old  received a sentence of four years for "inciting separatism" plus an additional two years' deprivation of political rights.

According to a source quoted by Radio Free Asia, Aku Gyatak was arrested in November 2012 after expressing his "displeasure" to Chinese officials who were visiting Dowa township to investigate self-immolation protests. The source also said that Aku Gyatak had claimed to be solely responsible for gatherings following self-immolations and "confessed to extending condolences to the self-immolators families and to donating money for prayers to be held on their behalf".

News of this case has only recently emerged due to the Chinese government's heavy censorship and blocking of communication channels in Tibet. 

Further reading: RFA I Phayul

DorjeDorje was handed a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence after being arrested for involvement in self-immolation protests.

Dorje, a student at Rebkong intermediate school, was arrested in November 2012 along with a number of other Tibetans for alleged association with self-immolation protests. He was charged with "instigating separatism" and sentenced in early February by the Malho Intermediate People's Court.

According to Radio Free Asia and Phayul, Dorje was specifically accused of shouting slogans calling for Tibet's independence and founding a Tibetan cultural preservation group called Ghangsol Gyunzin Tsokpa.

News of this case has only just emerged due to the Chinese government's heavy censorship and blocking of communication channels in Tibet.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul

Doptrug, Ugyen Dorjee & Choekyab
Three Tibetans have been imprisoned for their roles in the self-immolation protest of Lobsang Gendun on 3 December 2012.

According to Phayul, 51 year-old Doptrug was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment, Ugyen Dorjee, 40, to 21 months and Choekyab to 18 months. The dates of sentencing and details of the cases are not known.

All three are believed to have been involved in protecting the body of Lobsang Gendun from being taken away by Chinese security personnel. Lobsang had died at the scene of his self-immolation protest, a busy intersection in Pema (Ch: Banma) county, Golog prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Qinghai province). Local Tibetans eventually took Lobsang's body to Penang monastery, where traditional prayers were offered.

Doptrug (previously reported as Washul Dodrub) was detained on the night of the self-immolation protest. Choekyab was arrested the following day after calling for Doptrug's release. Both men are known as respected mediators in the local community. It is not clear when Ugyen Dorjee was arrested.

Further reading: Phayul

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