By Phuntsok Yangchen
Nov. 5, 2014/photo:Choenyi Woser
DHARAMSHALA, November 5: The Meruma Intermediate People’s Court in Ngaba County on Monday sentenced eight Tibetans up to five years in prison on charges of murder for their allege involvement with self immolations by Tibetans.
Dolma Tso has been sentenced to 3 years with deprivation of three years' deprivation of political rights while Konme was sentenced to 3 years, and Gephel to 2 years. Five unidentified Tibetans have been also sentenced to five years, sources said.
Kungam, brother of Dolma Tso, said that the sentencing of these Tibetans has to do with their connection in Kunchok Tseten’s self-immolation on December 3 last year at Serde village, Meruma township, Ngaba County.
“When Kunchok Tseten committed self-immolation, Dolma Tso helped with lifting of his charred body into the vehicle. For this act of generosity and help, the Chinese police arrested her on suspicion that she had links with the self-immolation,” said Kungam at a press conference held at the Gu Chu Sum Movement.
He further noted that Tso was subjected to severe torture during her eleven months in detention. However, she refused to accept the charges of murder. Protesting against the court’s judgment, Dolma Tso said, “I haven’t murdered Kunchok Tseten. He died by setting himself ablaze. When I came to pick his body up, he was already dead. I simply lifted his body up and put it into the vehicle. I haven’t committed any murder at all. At the time, I was the only person there. As I have told you during months of interrogation I will not change my statement.”
Two monks of Kirti monastery, Tenpa and Lobsang Gyatso, continued to remain in detention center since their arrest in December last year.
Following Kunchok Tseten’s self-immolation protest, twenty Tibetans from Meruma were arrested. While some were released; ten Tibetans are still in detention.
In his self-immolation protest, Kunchok Tseten shouted slogans demanding the return of exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and union of Tibetans inside Tibet and exiles before collapsing a few metres away in Meruma town. "Long live Gyalwa Tenzin Gyatso, lets unite our brothers here and those in exile", he shouted. An eyewitness had said that he saw cotton sheets wrapped around Tseten's body by metal wires.
Chinese police on routine patrol immediately surrounded him not allowing local Tibetans who were preventing them from taking the charred body away. The police finally took away Kunchok after a few clashes with the Tibetans around.