Yarphel in an undated photo.
DHARAMSHALA, March 5: An uncle of a Tibetan self-immolator has been sentenced to 15 months in jail for his “crime” of carrying a photo of his nephew during the latter’s funeral procession in Rebkong, eastern Tibet.
After a month-long detention in police custody, Yarphel, 42, was sentenced in a closed-door trial in the afternoon of March 1, exile sources say.
Yarphel is the uncle of Tibetan self-immolator Dorjee Lhundup.
He was charged with indulging in “illegal activities,” which included carrying pictures of Dorjee Lhundup during a non-violent procession when monks and lay Tibetans carried the ashes of Dorjee Lhundup to his home village.
Earlier in February, local Chinese security personnel summoned Yarphel along with Drayang, both monks of the Yershong Monastery in Rebkong. After long hours of interrogation, Yarphel was detained while Drayang, who is chronically ill, was sent off.
Following his arrest, Monastic authorities and family members made repeated appeals for his release but to no avail.
Till date, Yarphel was kept in a local prison in Dragmar but he is now likely to be shifted to another prison to serve his sentence.
Yarphel is the son of Lubum Gyal and a native of Dragkar Dewa. He was also a teacher at the Yershong monastery.
Dorjee Lhundup, 25, set himself ablaze on November 4, 2012 at one of the busiest crossroads in Rongwo town of Rebkong in eastern Tibet, days before the Chinese communist party’s 18th Party Congress in Beijing. He passed away at the protest site.
Father of a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, Dorjee Lhundup called for freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile, while engulfed in flames.
Thousands of local Tibetans gathered later that day, when Dorjee Lhundup was laid to rest at Dhongya-lay cremation site behind the Rongwo Monastery.
Since 2009, 107 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, protesting China’s continued occupation and demanding freedom in Tibet and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.