Two monks jailed for sharing information about self-immolation

[6 October 2016] Two Tibetans monks who were arrested in connection to a self-immolation in 2015 have each been given 18-month prison sentences in a secret trial. Kelsang Monlam and Jinpa Gyatso were linked to Sangyal Tso’s self-immolation protest on 27 May 2015. 

Sangye TsoThe two monks, Kelsang Monlam (37) and Jinpa Gyatso (39), were sentenced in a closed trial held on 12 September at Sangchu County People’s Court. They were charged with sharing information and images online relating to the self-immolation of Sangyal Tso (pictured right) which took place on 27 May 2015. Both monks belong to the college of Buddhist Dialectics at Labrang Tashikyil monastery located in Sangchu (Chinese: Xiahe) county, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China’s Gansu province).

Kelsang and Jinpa were detained separately on 4 June 2015. Jinpa Gyatso was taken into custody at a local market near Bora monastery along with two Bora monks, both of whom were released two days later. Kelsang Monlam was arrested in his room at Labrang Tashikyil monastery. According to Radio Free Asia, plain-clothes security officers gained access to the monastery by dressing up as electricians, before ransacking Kelsang’s room and arresting him.

Following their arrests, Kelsang and Jinpa were held incommunicado at Menkar prison located in Sangchu county. It is believed they are now serving their sentences at the same prison.

At least five other Tibetans have been arbitrarily detained in relation to Sangyal Tso’s self-immolation; her husband (Tadrin Wangyal), her nephew (Tenzin Soepa), Trinley Gyatso, Samten Gyatso and Lobsang Tenzin. The whereabouts and condition of all five remain unknown.

Sangyal Tso self-immolated on 27 May 2015. She staged her protest in front of a government office within Tashi Choekorling monastery in Chone county, Kanlho Prefecture. She died at the scene. She had placed a portrait of the Dalai Lama outside the gates of the office, with slogans written on it including “freedom for Tibet”. Subsequently, Chinese authorities denied the family a traditional funeral and ordered them to lie about the reasons for her death.

Further reading: TCHRD | RFA | Phayul


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