Two Zilkar monks Sonam Sherab, 45 and Sonam Yignyen, 44 sentenced to two years in prison.
DHARAMSHALA, October 16: In continuing crackdown on Tibetans suspected of taking part in peaceful protests, two monks of the Nyitso Zilkar Monastery in Tridu region of eastern Tibet have been sentenced to two years in prison.
Sonam Sherab, 45, and Sonam Yignyen, 44 were sentenced by a Chinese court in Siling city on unknown charges. They were detained with three other monks, Lobsang Jinpa, 30, Tsultrim Kalsang, 25, and Ngawang Monlam, 30 on September 1 by Chinese security officials in a surprise raid
Lobsang Sangyal, a Tibetan monk in south India, citing sources inside Tibet told Phayul that the entire region around Zilkar Monastery is under strict surveillance with Chinese security personnel interrogating local Tibetans and placing restrictions on their movement.
“The strict surveillance at the Monastery is creating obstacles in the study routine of the monks while the interrogations and restrictions placed on the locals are harming their livelihood as well as the children’s studies,” Sangyal said.
He added that the condition and whereabouts of the other arrested monks, including Tenzin Sherab, who was detained on October 1
, remains unknown.
On September 1, Chinese security forces had arrived in large numbers and confiscated electronic items, including computers and CDs from the quarters of the five monks. Other monks of the Monastery who pleaded for the release of those arrested were severely beaten.
The arrests and sentencing is believed to have been carried out in connection with the peaceful protests that engulfed the area on February 8, earlier this year.
Thousands of Tibetans in Tridu had taken part in a peaceful protest coinciding with the global solidarity vigil called by the exile based Central Tibetan Administration.
Around 400 monks from the Zilkar monastery had led the protest march to Zatoe town with banners, written in blue and red ink, symbolic of the two protector deities of Tibet, calling for the Dalai Lama’s return, release of Tibetan political prisoners including the XIth Panchen Lama and respect for Tibetan lives.
Although no arrests were made during the protest, on February 16, three Zatoe monks - Sonam Gyewa, Lobsang Samten, and Lobsang Nyima were arrested and later sentenced by an Intermediate People's Court in Siling at a secret trial without the presence of the monks' family members.