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Tibet monk given 11 yrs in colleague's immolation

September 5, 2011

By SCOTT McDONALD, Associated Press – 1 hr 59 mins ago

BEIJING – A Chinese court sentenced a Tibetan Buddhist monk to 11 years in jail Monday after ruling he hid another monk who set himself on fire, thereby preventing him from receiving emergency treatment.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the court in Sichuan province's Aba prefecture imposed the sentence on Drongdru after a one-day trial.
It convicted Drongdru, a monk in the Kirti monastery, on charges of intentional homicide for hiding another monk, Rigzin Phuntsog, for 11 hours after he set himself on fire.
Xinhua said Phuntsog, 16, was a nephew and a disciple of Drongdru and that he died even though he eventually received treatment in a hospital.
The March 16 death of Phuntsog was seen as a protest against China's heavy-handed controls on Tibetan Buddhism and provoked a standoff between security forces and monks.
Aba prefecture has been the scene of numerous protests over the past several years against the Chinese government.
A second trial will be held Tuesday in which monks Tsering Tenzin and Tenchum will face charges of plotting, instigating, and assisting in the self-immolation, said a clerk with the Maerkang County People's Court in Aba who gave only his surname, Zhou.
Kirti monastery is under tight guard by security forces who have been accused by overseas pro-Tibetan groups of beating onlookers and detaining monks. The area is off-limits to foreign journalists.
The circumstances surrounding the monk's death remain murky. In June, China rejected pressure from a U.N. human rights panel to provide information about more than 300 monks from Kirti whose whereabouts it said are unknown since the monastery was raided in April.
The Foreign Ministry said only that monks were undergoing "legal education" — a reference to compulsory political lectures on the basics of the Chinese Constitution, criminal law and regulations on religious affairs.
Tibetan monks tend to be fiercely loyal to Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who is reviled by Beijing. As custodians of Tibet's Buddhist culture, they tend to be especially concerned about tight Chinese controls over monasteries that take time away from religious study and practice.

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