Three of the nine Tibetans tried last week in China’s Gansu province on charges they incited a self-immolation protest against Chinese rule have been handed lengthy prison terms ranging from 10 to 15 years, as Beijing continues to crack down on Tibetans believed to have supported the burnings, sources said.
The nine had been detained in connection with a self-immolation protest in November in the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Luchu (Luqu) county, and were charged with “intentional homicide,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“On Feb. 28, the county court in Luchu sentenced three Tibetans to prison terms ranging from 10 to 15 years for their involvement in the Nov. 29 self-immolation of Tsering Tashi,” a father of two young daughters, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Lhamo Dorje was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment, followed by a deprivation of political rights for three years, and Kalsang Sonam received an 11-year term followed by three years’ deprivation of political rights, while Tsezung Kyab received a 10-year term with political rights deprived for a year,” the source said.
The fate of the six others who were tried—Kalsang Samdrub, Kalsang Kyab, Dorje Dondrub, Kalsang Namdren, Sonam Kyi, and Nyima—was not immediately clear.
Court proceedings were held under tight security and follows efforts by Beijing to criminalize the burning protests and punish Tibetans believed to have offered encouragement and support.
“The trial was conducted quietly with a huge presence of security forces in and around the court,” one source told RFA’s Tibetan Service, adding, “Tibetans were barred from coming close to the court premises.”
A total of 107 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze so far in protests challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader who lives in exile in India.
Chinese courts have jailed more than a dozen Tibetans, including monks, in connection with the self-immolation protests in the last few weeks. Some were given jail terms of up to 13 years.
Human rights groups have criticized the Chinese authorities for criminalizing the burning protests.
Chinese authorities have also deployed paramilitary forces and have restricted communications in the areas where self-immolations have occurred.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.