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Tibetan monks sentenced to prison over police station protests

August 19, 2009

Jane Macartney in Beijing
Times Online
August 18, 2009

The head prefect and the chant master of a monastery were among eight
Tibetans sentenced to prison terms for taking part in one of the
biggest protests against Chinese rule since last year's riots in Lhasa.

The court in a remote county of western Qinghai province sentenced
six monks and two members of the public for attacking a local police
station in March. They had been enraged after a lama from the Ragya
monastery escaped from police custody and apparently leapt to his
death in a fast-flowing river that passes through the hillside town.

Palden Gyatso, head prefect or disciplinarian at Ragya, received the
heaviest sentence, of seven years, on charges of inciting the attack,
said the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a group based
in the Indian town of Dharamsala that has been home to the Dalai Lama
since he fled into exile 50 years ago.

The other monks were sentenced to between one and four years in
prison. The two other Tibetans were jailed for six months and one
year respectively.

The protest erupted after the suicide of Tashi Sangpo, who had been
detained for replacing a Chinese flag above the monastery with a
banned Tibetan banner on March 10, the anniversary of the start of
the failed 1959 Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule. Dozens of police
poured out of the Ragya monastery that overlooks the Yellow River.
State media said they assaulted police and government staff, leaving
several people hurt.
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