Aug 30, 2011

Tibet: Monk Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison

A Tibetan Monk has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for hiding another monk who had protested by self-immolation.

Below is an article published by RTT News.

A court in China on Monday sentenced a Tibetan monk to 11 years in prison for hiding a fellow monk who in an apparent protest against Beijing's rule in Tibet had set himself on fire in March [2011].

China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Monday that the court sentenced Drongdru, the uncle of the monk who set himself on fire, after finding him guilty of "intentional homicide" as his move to hide the burnt monk had denied the man emergency treatment.

Two other Tibetan monks charged along with Drongdru in connection with the same case are scheduled to go on trial on Tuesday. Chinese authorities maintain that the decision of the defendants to hide their fellow monk had prevented him from getting treatment.

The developments come after Rigzin Phuntsog of the Kirti monastery in Aba prefecture set himself on fire on 16 March [2011] to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet. His death had triggered protests in the region, prompting the arrests of some 300 monks at the Ngaba Kirti monastery.

There is no news of the detained monks after they were taken into custody by the Chinese security forces on April 21 [2011]. China, however, has denied U.N. accusations that the monks were forcefully "disappeared," insisting that relevant local authorities are currently "conducting legal education for the Kirti monastery monks in order to maintain religious order there."

Earlier this month, another young Tibetan monk had burnt himself to death in China's south-western Sichuan province in apparent protest against Beijing's rule in the region. The monk was identified as 29-year-old Tsewang Norbu from the Nyitso Monastery in Dawu town.

Although China's state-run media said it was unclear why Norbu committed the act, rights groups said the monk was protesting against the harsh treatment of Tibetans by the Chinese administration since the 2009 Lhasa riots as well as the suppression of Tibetan culture.

Tensions have been high across the region ever since violent protests against Chinese rule broke out in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in 2009. China successfully crushed the uprising and arrested hundreds of Tibetans over their alleged roles in the deadly riots. Long jail terms were given to many of them and some were put to death.

China's tough stand on Tibet has evoked international criticism and many nations have urged the Chinese government to hold further negotiations with representatives of the self-styled Tibetan government in exile in India.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of most Tibetans, fled his homeland to India with thousands of followers in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising there. He recently retired from active politics and is no longer involved in the running of a self-styled Tibetan government in exile at Dharamsala in India.

Several round of talks have already taken place between China and Tibetan representatives over the issue since 2002, but have yielded little or no progress. Despite international pressure over Tibet, China maintains Tibet as an internal issue and has warned other nations against supporting the Tibetan cause.

China accuses the Tibetan government in exile of seeking total independence for Tibet, but the Tibetans maintain that they are only seeking greater autonomy for Tibetan parts of western China, not complete independence as projected by the Chinese government.