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China sentences four Tibetan monks to long prison terms

January 21, 2013

January 21, 2013 - Four monks from Gyalrong Tsodun Monastery have been sentenced to long prison terms by the Barkham Intermediate People’s Court in Barkham (Ch: Ma’erkang), capital of Ngaba (Ch: Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.

According to reliable information received by TCHRD, Namsey, 18, was sentenced to 10 years while Yarphel, 18, was handed six years’ imprisonment. Two other Tsodun monks, Lobsang Sangay, 19, and Asong, 22, were sentenced to two years, and two years and six months respectively. The sentences were passed in the middle of this month.

TCHRD had earlier reported on the arbitrary detention of the above mentioned monks from Tsodun Monastery. On 12 August 2012, the monks, Lobsang Sangay, Yarphel and Namsey, were detained during a night raid at their monastic quarters. Four days later, on 16 August, another monk from Tsodun Monastery, Thupwang Tenzin, 20, and Asong were detained.

All four monks hail from Tsodun Township. Namsey  was born in Kharkhu Village and Yarphel in Tsugtse Village. Lobsang Sangay of Shimgontsang family and Asong of Poezakhertsang belong to the same Dhatok village in Tsodun Township.

The condition and whereabouts of Thupwang Tenzin and Rabten, a monk official of Tsodun Monastery remain unknown since their detention in August last year.

It is not known on what charges the monks were sentenced but local sources say the monks might have been sentenced on suspicion that they were involved in the self-immolation protests that occurred at the monastery in 2012. On 30 March 2012, Tsodun monks, Chime Palden, 21 and Tenpa Dhargye, 22, set themselves on fire protesting Chinese rule. On 17 July 2012, Lobsang Lozin, another monk from the same monastery died of self-immolation protest.

Tsodun Monastery has become a frequent target of crackdown and detention as the Chinese authorities attempt to end self-immolation protests.

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