DHARAMSHALA, March 2: A Chinese court in eastern Tibet has passed down heavy prison terms of up to 15 years to three Tibetans for their “crimes” relating to the ongoing wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
An official Chinese newspaper in Kanlho region reported that a court in Luchu carried out the rulings on Thursday.
The court sentenced Lhamo Dorjee to 15 years in prison, Kalsang Sonam to 11 years, and Tsesang Kyab to 10 years on charges of “intentional homicide.”
According to US based Radio Free Asia, the court hearing was “largely a closed door affair” and was held “under tight security” as opposed to China’s earlier claims of open trials attended by relatives of the accused.
"The trial was conducted quietly with a huge presence of security forces in and around the Kanlho Prefecture court. The Tibetans were barred from coming close to the court premises," the radio service quoted a Tibetan source as saying.
Although details of the court ruling are not available, it was earlier reported that nine Tibetans were standing trial on the same day in connection with the self-immolation protest of Tsering Namgyal
Phayul had earlier reported
on the arrest of eight Tibetans, including a family member of Tsering Namgyal, for sharing information with outsiders.
The eight arrested Tibetans have been identified as Kalsang Samdup, Nyima, Lhamo Dhundup, Dorjee Dhundup, Kalsang Kyab, Kalsang Sonam, Kalsang Namdren, and Sonam Kyi.
Tsering Namgyal, 31, succumbed to his injuries after setting himself on fire near a local Chinese government office in Luchu on November 29, 2012. He is survived by his wife Choekyong Tso, their two children, Dorjee Kyi, 7, and Kalsang Dolma, 3, and his parents.
In the past few months, Chinese courts have carried out a number of rushed hearings and sentenced a Tibetan monk to death with a two-year reprieve and several others to lengthy jails terms.
Following the court rulings, the New York based global rights group, Human Rights Watch had demanded the immediate release of the jailed Tibetans arguing that their conviction “relied solely on confessions they gave during five months in detention.”
“These prosecutions are utterly without credibility,” HRW said. “The Chinese government seems to think it can stop self-immolation by punishing anyone who talks about it. But in pursuing these ‘incitement’ cases, the government compounds the tragedy of these suicide protests.”
HRW noted that it has documented “endemic use of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and coercion of Tibetans in detention.”
“Self-immolations take place in the context of the Chinese government’s long-standing repressive policies in the Tibetan areas that have seen severe restrictions on Tibetans’ rights,” the rights group had said.