His Eminence Kirti Rinpoche addressing the press in New Delhi on February 2, 2013. (Phayul photo)
NEW DELHI, February 4: On the sidelines of the just concluded Tibetan People’s Solidarity Campaign in the Indian capital, Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche called for the release of eight Tibetans sentenced in connection with Tibet self-immolations.
Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche, the head lama of Kirti monasteries, where more than 30 of the 99 self-immolations have occurred, pronounced the sentences “unjust” and “against international norms.”
“The convictions of the eight Tibetans are not in accordance with China’s own laws leave alone international laws,” Rinpoche, who earlier served as a minister with the exile Tibetan administration, said. “These unjust sentencing have been done in the dark without following the due process of law.”
On January 31, Chinese courts in eastern Tibet 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.
Rinpoche said China has “never produced any concrete evidence” and instead detained and framed charges against relatives and friends of self-immolators to “create” evidence.
“Lobsang Kunchok and Lobsang Tsering have been been charged of having contacts with the Dharamshala based Kirti Monastery’s Media group, but I can ascertain that both of them have never contacted the us,” Rinpoche said.
“They have a relative in exile but he is not a member of the media group. We have only two members in the group, which according to China has 11 members, and none of the two have ever been in contact with Lobsang Kunchok and Lobsang Tsering.”
Rinpoche further said that no relatives of the two sentenced were present in the court at the time of the sentencing and the 100 plus people present in the court as claimed by China were all government officials.
“It is clear that they have been charged on forced confessions,” Rinpoche said. “I fear for their lives and I request all the media personnel to support their innocence and see that justice is done.”
Signaling an alarm, Rinpoche noted that there is “grave danger” of several Tibetans facing similar false cases and accusations in other areas and that the Chinese government will “continue to play with the lives of innocent Tibetans.”
“I urge everyone, especially the free media, to thoroughly investigate the situation in Tibet, study the charges framed by China against Tibetans, and then support the truth of the Tibetan people,” Kyabje Kirti Rinpoche said. “Your efforts will help prevent injustice and save innocent Tibetan lives.”