China Releases Second Tibetan Tied to Self-Immolation Protest

2016-12-06
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Kunme is shown following his release from prison in Sichuan on Dec. 4, 2016.
Kunme is shown following his release from prison in Sichuan on Dec. 4, 2016.
Photo sent by an RFA listener

Authorities in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan have freed a second Tibetan linked to a self-immolation protest three years ago in Ngaba county, releasing him from Sichuan’s Mianyang prison on Dec. 4, sources said.

Kunme, a resident of Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county’s Meruma township, “was escorted by police back to his home in Meruma, where he was welcomed by relatives and other members of his local community,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“He is a member of the Gotse family in the township’s second housing group, and his father’s name is Konchok Lodroe,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

One of a group of 20 local Tibetans detained on Dec. 3, 2013, Kunme had tried to stop security forces from taking a severely burned self-immolation protester, Konchog Tseten, away from the site of his protest, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Tseten, a 30-year-old herdsman and father of two, later died on his way to a hospital, and authorities secretly cremated his remains, returning his ashes to his family without explanation.

After 11 months in detention, during which he was beaten and tortured, Kunme was convicted by the Ngaba County People’s Court on a charge of homicide and was handed a three-year-term, RFA’s source said.

Credit was given for the time already spent in custody, making him eligible for release this month.

A second detainee, a woman named Drolma Tso, was also freed from Mianyang on Dec. 4 after serving a three-year term for the same offense.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Ngaba and in other 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 return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama 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.


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