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China jails eight Tibetans for links to self-immolation protest PDF Print E-mail
[18 November 2014] Eight Tibetans have been imprisoned by the Chinese authorities for an alleged association with a self-immolation protest. The sentences ranged from two to five years. One of the accused is said to have protested their innocence during the trial despite suffering torture and beatings during an 11-month detention.

On 3 November, the Intermediate People's Court in Meruma, Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) county, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province), sentenced eight Tibetans for up to five years in prison on charges relating to aiding and abetting a self-immolation protest.

Dolma TsoDue to China's censorship and communication restrictions only three of the eight Tibetans have so far been identified. Dolma Tso (pictured right) and Konme both received three-year prison sentences and Gephel received a two-year term. Dolma Tso also received a further three years' deprivation of political rights. The other five Tibetans are understood to have received five-year sentences.

Though full details of the convictions are not known, it is possible the group were charged with "intentional homicide", a charge introduced by the Chinese government in December 2012 to be used against anyone suspected of assisting a self-immolation protest or having a connection with self-immolator.

The sentences relate to the self-immolation of Konchok Tseten which took place on 2 December 2013 in Ngaba and coincided with David Cameron's state visit to China. The 30-year old father of two died following his protest.

According to Dolma Tso's brother Kungyam, who lives in exile, Dolma Tso had offered to help lift Konchok Tseten's body into a vehicle following the protest. For this act of generosity and help, the Chinese police arrested her on suspicion that she had links with the self-immolation, Kungyam said. He added that Dolma Tso had been beaten and tortured whilst in detention and that she was not allowed a lawyer during the trial.

Dolma Tso protested her innocence during the trial, refusing to accept a more lenient sentence if she admitted guilt. Kungyam quoted Dolma Tso as telling the court, I havent murdered Kunchok Tseten. He died by setting himself ablaze. When I came to pick his body up, he was already dead. I simply lifted his body up and put it into the vehicle. I havent committed any murder at all. At the time, I was the only person there. As I have told you during months of interrogation I will not change my statement.

At least 10 Tibetans were arrested following Kunchok Tseten's self-immolation and are believed to still be in detention, including two monks from Kirti monastery, Tenpa and Lobsang Gyatso.

Since February 2009,
132 Tibetans in Tibet have self-immolated in protest against China's oppressive regime. The Chinese authorities have used the "intentional homicide" charge in a number of cases since its introduction. In January 2013, Lobsang Kunchok received a suspended death sentence, whilst other Tibetans have received prison sentences ranging from three to 12 years.

Further reading:

Cases involving "intentional homicide" charge
Tibetan monk sentenced to death for "inciting self-immolations (31 Jan 2013)
Heavy prison sentences for six Tibetans after rescuing self-immolator (31 Jan 2013)
13-year sentence for attempting to incite a self-immolation (8 Feb 2013)
Six sentenced for association with self-immolation protests (13 Aug 2013)

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