A Tibetan monk whose whereabouts were not known since his arrest eight months ago has been ordered jailed for three years, it was learned Thursday, while the fate of another monk held from the same monastery remains unclear.
Both of them were from the restive Kirti Monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture from which many monks have self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule.
"It has been learned that 36-year-old Kirti monk Lodro, who was arrested on October 20, 2011, was sentenced in Barkham [in Chinese, Ma'erkang] at the beginning of July to three years imprisonment," according to a statement from monks Losang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering from the Kirti sister monastery in exile in India's Dharamsala hill town.
Details about the trial date and charges were not immediately available, making it difficult to conclude whether Lodro was held illegally for months before his sentencing, the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.
According to the exiled monks, Lodro's relatives were not informed of the court hearing at the time, and "we have no further information about it."
"His whereabouts were unknown from the time of his arrest until his appearance in court."
Lodro, from Shongwa Dewa village in Andu township in upper Ngaba, became a monk at the age of about 20 and is skilled in the painting and manufacture of Buddhist images, they said.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Kirti monk Losang Tsering's whereabouts are not known after his arrest at the monastery by Ngaba police on June 26.
"His relatives have been to many different offices looking for him, but without success; he has disappeared," Losang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering said.
Losang Tsering, from Bato Dewa village, Lota township in lower Ngaba, joined Kirti monastery at a young age and had been staying there permanently.
"It is not known on what charges Lobsang [Losang] Tsering was arrested and where he is being held and in what condition," the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said.
Kirti Monastery has been under siege by Chinese security forces for more than a year amid a wave of self-immolations protesting Chinese rule and calling for the return of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Amid the burnings, Chinese authorities have also detained hundreds of monks from monasteries and jailed scores of Tibetan writers, artists, singers, and educators for asserting Tibetan national identity and civil rights, exile sources say.
The latest self-immolation by a teenage monk in Barkham on Monday brought to 44 the total number of burnings reported since February 2009 as Tibetans challenge Chinese policies which they say have robbed them of their rights.
Most of the self-immolations have occurred in Tibetan-populated provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu.
Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.