Tibetan Monk Jailed 10 Years, Blamed for Self-Immolation Deaths

2013-07-18
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An undated photo of monk Tsultrim Kalsang.
An undated photo of monk Tsultrim Kalsang.
Photo courtesy of Lobsang Sangyal.

Chinese authorities have sentenced a Tibetan monk to 10 years in jail in Qinghai province after blaming him for three deadly Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese rule, according to sources.

Tsultrim Kalsang, 25, from the Zilkar Monastery in Dzatoe (in Chinese, Zaduo) county in the Yulshul (Yushu) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was sentenced for "triple homicide" by the Intermediate People’s Court in Ziling (Xining) prefecture last week, the sources said.

He was among four monks from the Zilkar Monastery first detained in September last year for "political reasons or on suspicion of having 'outside contacts,'" a Tibetan source told RFA's Tibetan Service.

Homicide charges are "used frequently by the Chinese authorities to crack down on self-immolation protests and to persecute critics of Chinese policy in Tibet," according to the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), based in Dharamsala, India.

A total of 120 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009.

Chinese authorities have recently tightened controls in Tibetan-populated areas in a bid to check the self-immolation protests, arresting and jailing more than a dozen Tibetans who they accuse of being linked to the burning protests. Some have been jailed for up to 15 years.

Three others held with Tsultrim Kalsang were earlier sentenced to between two to five years. One of them, Lobsang Jinpa, was accused of writing lyrics for popular Tibetan singer Lo Lo, who was jailed in February for releasing an album of songs calling for an end to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.

Detained for four months

Tsultrim Kalsang was allowed to return to the monastery for a short time after being detained but "later he was taken to Xining where he was held for over four months and finally sentenced to 10 years in jail for allegedly killing three persons," the source said.

"The sentencing of Tsultrim Kalsang is related to the self-immolation incidents of [Tibetan youths] Nawang Norphel and Tenzin Khedup [in Dzatoe in June 2012]," Lobsang Sangay, a Tibetan exile with contacts in Yushul, told RFA.

Sources said he was also linked to another self-immolation death, the details of which are not immediately clear.

Tsultrim Kalsang, who became a monk at the age of 10, was held in custody for six months after violent 2008 protests against Chinese rule in Tibet.

On his release, he continued to study at his native monastery, and during the winter holidays volunteered to teach Tibetan Buddhism and other subjects to hundreds of Tibetan students in Dzatoe and Chumarleb (Qumalai) counties.

In 2011, he was appointed a lecturer of Tibetan language at Zilkar Monastery and had composed many new Tibetan texts to be taught at the school.

Reported by Dorjee Damdul for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

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