Tibetan Monk Jailed for Seeking Independence, Backing Burning Protests

An undated photo of monk and writer Hortsang Tamdrin.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

A court in western China’s Sichuan province has ordered a Tibetan monk jailed for four and a half years for seeking independence for Tibet and supporting self-immolation protests against Chinese rule, sources said.

Hortsang Tamdrin, a monk at Jonang monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture’s Dzamthang (Rangthang) county, was sentenced by the prefecture’s Intermediate People’s Court after being held for almost a month following his detention on Oct. 24, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.

“He was sentenced for having committed actions aimed at ‘splitting the nation’ and for calling for the independence of Tibet,” Tsangyang Gyatso told RFA, citing contacts in the region.

“He was also accused of making public statements of support for self-immolation protesters and for promoting special recognition for self-immolators,” Gyatso said.

“Now he has been jailed for more than four years.”

Tamdrin’s age and the date of  his sentencing were not immediately clear.

Writer, social activist

A native of Tsang village in Dzamthang county’s Barma township, Tamdrin was a writer who established a “Compassion Foundation” and frequently worked to help orphanages, centers for the handicapped, and young monks belonging to different monasteries in the area, Gyatso said.

“He also organized special exhibitions of Buddhist scroll paintings,” Gyatso said.

Chinese authorities were especially angered that Tamdrin had taken part in a public ceremony formally recognizing self-immolation protesters as “Outstanding Sons of Tibet,” he said.

A total of 123 Tibetans living in China have set themselves ablaze calling for Tibetan freedom and for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, with several of the burnings taking place in Dzamthang county.

Another six Tibetans have staged self-immolation protests in India and Nepal.

Chinese authorities have tightened controls in Tibet and in Tibetan prefectures in Chinese provinces to check the fiery protests, cutting communication links with outside areas and jailing Tibetans they believe to be linked to the burnings.

More than a dozen have been jailed so far, with some handed jail terms of up to 15 years.

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


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