Tsultrim Kalsang, 25, in an undated photo.
DHARAMSHALA, July 19: In another instance of heavy-handed ruling following the criminalisation of the self-immolation protests in Tibet, a Tibetan monk has been sentenced to ten years in prison on charges of ‘intentional homicide.’
Tsultrim Kalsang, 25, a Tibetan monk from the restive Nyatso Zilkar Monastery in Dzatoe region of Tridu, eastern Tibet was sentenced on July 12 by an Intermediate People’s Court in Siling city.
Dharamshala based rights group Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said Tsultrim Kalsang’s charges are possibly related to the twin self-immolation protest by two Tibetan youths Ngawang Norphel, 22, and Tenzin Khedup, 24
,in Dzatoe region on June 30, 2012. Both of them died in their protests.
Tsultrim Kalsang was detained in a major raid on September 1, 2012
from his monastic quarters along with four other monks: Sonam Sherab, 41, Lobsang Jinpa, 31, Sonam Yignyen, 45, and Ngawang Monlam, 31.
60 vehicles full of Chinese armed police had entered the Nyatso Zilkar Monastery, searched the residences of the monks and confiscated some computers and CDs.
“Since his detention, Tsultrim Kalsang spent about 10 months in uncertainty as his case was referred to various procuratorates who took time to draw up charges,” TCHRD cited local contacts as saying.
“After about a month of his detention, he was briefly returned to his monastery due to failing health. However, he was called for interrogation twice in Siling city and was detained for four months at a stretch for further questioning.”
Tsultrim Kalsang had taken part in a non-violent protest calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet on February 8, 2012, coinciding with the solidarity prayers called by the exile Tibetan administration.
He and many other Tibetans were later detained, tortured and sentenced for taking part in the protests.
Of those five arrested on September 1, Lobsang Jinpa received five years in prison for writing the lyrics of a song sung by singer Lolo, who was also sentenced to six years
beginning this year. Both Sonam Sherab and Sonam Yignyen
were sent to a Re-education Through Labour (Ch: laojiao) camp for two years, TCHRD said.
Tsultrim Kalsang was born 1988 in Nyatso Village in Tridu to Athub and Dokar Tso, and became a monk at the age of 10.
After finishing his studies at the Zilkar monastery in 2004, he joined the great Sera monastic university in Lhasa, where he further engaged in Buddhist studies for some more years. During the 2008 protests in Tibet, the Chinese police kept him in custody for around six months, and then he was forced to return to his hometown.
“Among his fellow student-monks at the monastery, he had the reputation of being the brightest scholar,” TCHRD said. “In 2011, he was appointed as a lecturer of Tibetan language at Zilkar Monastery; one of his main achievements was that he composed many new Tibetan texts to be taught at the school.”
China has frequently used charges of ‘intentional homicide’ to crack down on self-immolations and to persecute critics of Chinese policy in Tibet despite protests by numerous governments and international rights groups.
In January this year, a Chinese court sentenced Lobsang Konchok
, 40, a monk from Ngaba Kirti Monastery to death with a two-year reprieve and Lobsang Tsering, 31, to ten years in prison on similar charges of intentional homicide. On the same day, six other Tibetans
were handed down heavy jail terms for their alleged roles in trying to rescue a Tibetan self-immolator from falling into the hands of Chinese security forces.
Since 2009, as many as 119 Tibetans living under China’s rule have set themselves on fire calling for freedom and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile.