DHARAMSHALA, July 22: In yet another case of harsh sentencing of Tibetans in connection with the ongoing wave of self-immolation protests inside Tibet, a Chinese court in eastern Tibet has sentenced three Tibetans for up to ten years in prison for their crimes of trying to rescue a Tibetan self-immolator from falling into the hands of Chinese authorities.
A Chinese court in Siling sentenced Doptrug, 51 to ten years; Ugyen Dorjee, 40 to 21 months and Choekyab to 18 months for taking part in a protest demanding the body of Tibetan self-immolator Lobsang Gedun last December.Lobsang Gendun, a 29-year-old monk
of the Penag Kadak Troedreling Monastery in Seley Thang region of Golog Pema Dzong set himself on fire on December 3, 2012 protesting China’s continued occupation of Tibet.
Lobsang Gendun had his hands clasped in prayers as he raised slogans while engulfed in flames and walked a few steps towards a busy road intersection and then fell to the ground. He succumbed to his injuries at the site of his protest.
Since 2009, as many as 119 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. Kunchok Sonam, an 18-year-old monk
of the Thangkor Sogtsang Monastery in Zoege region of eastern Tibet, became the latest Tibetan to self-immolate after he set himself on fire on July 20. He passed away at the site of his protest.
China has criminalised the self-immolation protests and sentenced scores of people to heavy prison terms on charges of “intentional homicide” for their alleged roles in the fiery protests. Chinese officials have barred Tibetans from offering prayers and showing solidarity with families of self-immolators and announced the cancellation of development funds to those villages where self-immolations have taken place.
In January this year, Chinese courts sentenced Lobsang Kunchok to death
with a two-year reprieve and Lobsang Tsering to 10 years on charges of “intentional homicide.” The same day, another court sentenced six Tibetans to varying jail terms
of 12 to three years in jail on similar charges.
Following the sentencing, New York based global rights group, Human Rights Watch, said Chinese authorities should “immediately release” Kunchok and Tsering, while noting that their conviction “relied solely on confessions they gave during five months in detention.”
The group said the prosecutions were “utterly without credibility” and pointed out the Chinese government in pursuing these ‘incitement’ cases was “compounding the tragedy” of the self-immolation protests.