New Burning; Monks Jailed

A new Tibetan self-immolation raises the burning protest toll to 98.
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Chinese officials inspect the site of the self-immolation near the Bora monastery.
Chinese officials inspect the site of the self-immolation near the Bora monastery.
Photo courtesy of an RFA Tibetan listener.

A young Tibetan father of two set himself on fire and died Tuesday in protest against Chinese rule in a Tibetan-populated area of Gansu province, according to sources, while four monks in a neighboring province have been jailed for up to 10 years over alleged links to previous self-immolations.

Twenty-six-year-old Kunchok Kyab torched himself near the Bora monastery in the Kanlho (in Chinese, Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture's Sangchu (Xiahe) county at noon in the third Tibetan self-immolation protest this month, a Tibetan in the area said.

Chinese authorities immediately took away his body and local Tibetans threatened to protest if they did not return it to his family.

"I have seen Kunchok Kyab's body being carried away by the Chinese police," a Tibetan living near Bora monastery told RFA's Tibetan Service.

"The local Tibetans demanded that the body be returned to their custody and if they [the authorities] don't return it, the Tibetans threatened to stage a sit-in protest in front of the local police station," the Tibetan said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Photo of Kunchok Kyab.
Photo of Kunchok Kyab. Photo: RFA

Kunchok Kyab, fondly called Kunbai by relatives and friends, protested against Chinese "repressive" rule as most other self-immolators had, according to a source based in India's hill town of Dharamsala, where Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is living in exile.

He is survived by his wife, Dorjee Tso, and two children.

No other details were immediately available as the authorities had clamped down on communications in the area, according to a Tibetan named Sonam living in Switzerland with contacts in the region.

The latest burning brings to 98 the total number of self-immolations since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009. The protests are aimed at highlighting opposition to Chinese rule and seeking the return of the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet after a failed national revolt against Chinese occupation in 1959.

Monks jailed

Meanwhile, a local Chinese court in Sichuan province's Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture recently jailed four monks from the Tsodun Kirti monastery to between two and 10 years in connection with previous self-immolations, according to two exiled monks in Dharamsala.

Lobsang Sangay, Asung, Yarphel, and Namsay had been held since August following a raid by the Chinese authorities on the monastery, which is a branch of the main restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba from where many monks had staged self-immolation protests in the past.

"The reasons for their detention were not known at that time of detention, but later the sources of the information learned that all the monks were detained on suspicion of their involvement in the self-immolation of [three Tibetans]," exile monks Kanyak Tsering and Lobsang Yeshi said in a note to RFA.

Asung, 22, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison while Lobsang Sangay, 19, Yarphel, 18, and Namsey, 18, were sentenced to two years, six years, and 10 years respectively, they said.

Two other monks of the Tsodun Kirti monastery—identified as Thupwang Tenzin and Rabten, who is also a member of the monastery's religion management committee—were detained around the same time and remain in the custody of the local authorities, they said.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.





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