Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have freed a former Tibetan monk sentenced in 2011 for five years for taking part in protests challenging Beijing’s rule, sources in the region and in exile said.
Tsering, a former monk from Kirti monastery also known as Tsering Yoyoling, was released on June 24 from Sichuan’s Deyang prison and escorted to his home in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county with no word given to his family of his impending release, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Once his family and friends knew he had been freed, many supporters visited his home to welcome him back,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“So far, there have been no restrictions on relatives and friends visiting his home,” the source said.
Tsering had taken part in protests outside the Ngaba county office during a wider regional uprising in 2008, and though authorities had then searched for him for three years in order to detain him, he managed to escape detection, the source said.
“He led the life of a fugitive for three years and suffered tremendously.”
Finally captured on June 20, 2011, Tsering was quickly sentenced to a five-year term for his role in the protest and was sent to Deyang prison, he said.
“Tsering was a monk at Ngaba’s KIrti monastery and later became a layperson,” the source said, adding, “He was very devoted and faithful to [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama.”
“His father’s name is Lorik,” he added.
Opposing Chinese rule
Also speaking to RFA, a Tibetan living in France confirmed the release.
“Tsering was involved in a 2008 protest rally in Ngaba and was taken into custody on June 20, 2011 at a hotel in Ngaba town,” the source named Sonam said, citing contacts in the Ngaba area.
“He was sentenced to a five-year term which he completed in June, and he was released on June 24.”
Tsering’s Kirti monastery has been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests by Tibetan monks, former monks, and nuns opposed to Chinese rule.
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 and Sonam Wangdu for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.