Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have freed a Tibetan monk jailed since 2013 on a charge of having helped a fellow monk self-immolate in a protest challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, Tibetan sources say.
Lobsang Tingdzin had served two and a half years in prison and was released on July 20, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.
“He returned to his hometown in Dzoege [in Chinese, Ruo’ergai] county to a warm reception by family members and local supporters, who greeted him with ceremonial scarves,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Tingdzin was one of five Tibetans detained in connection with the self-immolation of Soktsang monastery monk Konchok Sonam, 18, who set himself ablaze and died on July 20, 2013 in Dzoege while calling out for Tibetan freedom.
Two of those detained, Sonam’s mother and teacher, were quickly released, but Tingdzin and two other monks—Sangye Palden and Lobsang Yonten—were detained and interrogated at the Dzoege county jail, RFA’s source said.
All three were sent following their trial to Mianyang prison outside Sichuan’s provincial capital Chengdu, where Palden and Yonten are still serving sentences of five and three years, respectively, the source said.
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 Lobe Soktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.