Tibetan Protest Monk Released Early From Five-Year Prison Term

Sentenced for having supported a self-immolation protest, he is freed for 'good conduct' while in custody.

Tibetan monk Ludrub (seated in car) is greeted by supporters following his Sept. 2 release from prison.

A Tibetan monk sentenced to five years in prison after being linked to a fatal self-immolation protest in southwestern China’s Sichuan province has been freed by authorities a year before his term was due to end, according to a local source.

Ludrub, a monk of Gyalrong Tsodun Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture’s Barkham (Ma’erkang) county, was released on Sept. 2 and returned home the following day, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“Many of his friends from the monastery lined the road to welcome him on his return home,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Ludrub is believed to have been freed early because of his good conduct while in detention,” the source said.

Ludrub had been linked by authorities to the July 2012 self-immolation of another monk, 18-year-old Lobsang Lodzin, who had set himself ablaze to protest Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, with several other monks also later detained and charged.

While burning, Lodzin—who sources described as “one of the top students in his class”—walked a short distance toward local government offices, shouting slogans before he collapsed, sources said in earlier reports.

Senior monks later placed his body in a nearby river to be carried downstream, sources said.

Among those later charged with supporting Lodzin in his protest, one—Sangye Gyaltsen-—was sentenced to two years and was released in 2014, RFA’s source said.

Another, Thargyal, was held in custody for three years and then released in 2015, he said.

Two others—Gendun Yarphel and Kelsang Gyatso—were sentenced to six years and 10 years respectively, and are still serving their terms.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.

A total of 145 Tibetans living in China have now set themselves ablaze in self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in 2009, with most protests featuring calls for Tibetan freedom and the Dalai Lama’s return from India, where he has lived since escaping Tibet during a failed national uprising in 1959.

Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.