(From L to R) Drango Monastery monks Tashi Dhargyal and Namgyal Dhondup and Thrinley.
DHARAMSHALA, February 19: A Chinese court in Drango, eastern Tibet has sentenced five Tibetans to varying prison terms of 10 years to 14 years for their alleged involvement in leading a major anti-China protest that erupted in the region early last year.
The Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration in a report said the Intermediate People's Court of Drango sentenced two monks of the Drango Monastery and three lay Tibetans on January 26 for “leading the protests and looting a public bank.”
The two monks, Tashi Dhargyal and Namgyal Dhondup, have been sentenced to 14 years in prison for leading the protests and instigating others to join the peaceful demonstrations of January 23, 2012. Both of them were also blamed for taking part in the pan-Tibet uprisings of 2008.
Thrinley has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for taking part in the protests and “looting a public bank” during the demonstrations.
The two other unidentified Tibetans have been sentenced to 11 years each.
Hundreds of Tibetans had come out on the streets in Drango on January 23, 2012, the first day of Chinese new year, calling for Tibet’s freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile. Chinese security forces retaliated by firing indiscriminately at the unarmed demonstrators, killing and injuring scores of people.
The protests flared after local Chinese Public Security Bureau officials began to arbitrarily arrest Tibetans on suspicion of their involvement in the appearance of leaflets and posters around the town following the wave of self-immolations in the region. The posters had warned of more Tibetan self-immolations if the Chinese government did not listen to Tibetan concerns.
Following the protests, Chinese authorities led a large-scale manhunt for suspected demonstrators, arresting over a hundred Tibetans and in one instance, killing two brothers in their hideout in the nearby hills of Drango.