Two Tibetan Monks Linked to Self-Immolation Are Sentenced in a Secret Trial

They were convicted of sending information and images of a Tibetan mother's protest to outside contacts.

Tibetan monks gather at Gansu's Labrang monastery in a file photo.

Two Tibetan monks linked to a 2015 self-immolation protest in northwestern China’s Gansu province have been handed prison terms of a year-and-a-half each in a secret trial, Tibetan sources say.

Jinpa Gyatso and Kelsang Monlam, both monks at the Labrang monastery, were sentenced on Sept. 12 by a court in Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“They were suspected of involvement in the self-immolation of Sangye Tso on May 27, 2015,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Jinpa Gyatso  was detained in June 2015 in Sangchu county’s main town, and Monlam was taken from his room in handcuffs that same month,” the source said, adding, “Their parents and relatives were not informed of the charges made against them.”

Two other monks were taken into custody at about the same time, but were released after being held and questioned for several days, he said.

“Jinpa Gyatso comes from Bora town in Sangchu county, and Monlam comes from Chone [Zhuoni] county,” he said.

Sangye Tso, aged about 36, set herself ablaze outside Chone county police headquarters in the early hours of May 27, 2015 in a challenge to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas, sources in exile told RFA in earlier reports, citing local contacts.

Tso, whose charred body was quickly removed from the protest site by authorities, was survived by her husband Tamdrin Wangyal and by a son named Tsering Dondrub and a daughter named Khatso, sources said.

Information, images shared

Separately, the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy confirmed the sentences, saying that Gyatso, aged about 39, and Monlam, 37, had been convicted of “sharing online information and images” related to Tso’s protest.

“Both Jinpa and Kelsang are being held at Menkar Prison in Sangchu County,” TCHRD 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 Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.