A Tibetan monk missing since his detention by police last year following a solitary protest in southwestern China’s Sichuan province has been located by family members in a prison after being handed a three-year sentence in a secret trial, according to a Tibetan source.
Lobsang Kelsang, then 19, launched his protest at around 3:00 p.m. on September 7 on a central street of the main town of Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county and was quickly overpowered by police stationed nearby, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
“He was carrying a photo of [exiled spiritual leader] His Holiness the Dalai Lama over his head and was calling out for Tibetan freedom,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A Tibetan layman who attempted to interfere with the arrest was also detained, and police at one point fired gunshots into the air to disperse a forming crowd, a local source said.
Frustrated for months in their attempts to learn Kelsang’s whereabouts in detention, family members have now learned he is being held in Deyang prison in Deyang City’s Huang Xu town in Sichuan, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.
“He had been detained for a while in a prison in Maowun [Mao] county, and while there he was secretly sentenced to three years in prison and was moved to Deyang,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Family members still lack full details of Kelsang’s present condition, especially his health, and have not been allowed to meet with him,” the source said.
Kelsang, a native of Ngaba’s Meruma township, had been enrolled as a novice monk at Ngaba’s Kirti monastery, the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by Tibetan monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule, the source said.
“In August this year, another Kirti monk, named Adrak, was also secretly given a three-year term,” he 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 Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.