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China jails two monks for protesting with hand-drawn Tibet flags PDF Print E-mail
[19 November 2014] Two monks have been jailed for staging peaceful solo protests, both of which involved waving hand-drawn versions of the banned Tibet flag and shouting slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Lobsang Gyatso was sentenced to three years while Lobsang Tenpa was imprisoned for two years.

Lobsang GyatsoOn 2 April, Lobsang Gyatso (pictured right), undertook a peaceful solo protest on the main street of Ngaba in eastern Tibet. The 20-year old monk from Ngaba's Kirti monastery carried a hand-drawn Tibetan national flag* and, according to exile sources, shouted "Freedom for Tibet! The Dalai Lama must return to Tibet" during his protest.

Lobsang Gyatso managed to avoid capture at the time, however, on 15 April, he was arrested by Chinese police at his monastery.

Lobsang TenpaOn 26 April, Lobsang Tenpa (pictured left) staged his solitary protest, also along the main street of Ngaba. During his protest, the 19-year old Kirti monk carried a large photo of the Dalai Lama (see photo below right), had a hand-drawn Tibetan national flag tied around his head and called out for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama as well as slogans against China's oppressive policies.

Lobsang Tenpa's protestAccording to exile sources, both monks were tortured and beaten during their seven-month long detention.

On 7 November, the two monks were tried at the Intermediate People's Court in Barkham (Chinese: Ma'erkang), Ngaba (Ch: Aba) prefecture, Amdo (now part of China's Sichuan province). There was a lack of due process as both families were denied permission to hire lawyers to defend the young monks. However, both families were allowed to attend the trial.

According to Phayul, the two monks were charged with "separatist activities" and "plotting against the nation". Lobsang Gyatso was handed a three-year prison sentence and Lobsang Tenpa a two-year sentence. It is not known where they are serving their prison terms.

Tibet flag* Note: The Chinese government has banned the display and possession of the Tibetan national flag in Tibet. It is deemed a "separatist activity" and is punishable with a prison sentence. Even having a digital image of the flag is considered a crime. In February 2013, Ngawang Tobden, a 20-year old student, was jailed for two years for having "political" images on his mobile phone, including the Tibet flag.

Further reading: RFA I TCHRD I ICT I Phayul

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