Eight Tibetans in China’s Sichuan province were ordered jailed this week for up to five years for allegedly aiding in the fatal self-immolation protest of a father of two, according to sources.
The sentences were handed down on Monday by the Intermediate People’s Court in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county following the defendants’ conviction on charges of “murder,” the brother of Dolma Tso, one of those jailed, said in Dharamsala, India, on Wednesday.
Dolma Tso, who received a three-year term, had been only indirectly involved in the protest death of self-immolator Konchok Tseten, her brother Kungyam said.
“Dolma Tso tried to offer help by lifting up his charred body into [a] vehicle,” Kungyam told a press conference organized by the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Ex-Political Prisoners Association.
“For this act of generosity and help, the Chinese police arrested her on suspicion that she had links with the self-immolation,” Kungyam said.
“While in detention, she was beaten and tortured severely,” he added.
Despite being offered a more lenient sentence if she would agree to the court’s finding of guilt, Dolma Tso refused, shouting out in court that she was innocent of the charge made against her, Kungyam said.
Also sentenced on Monday were Konme, who was handed a three-year term, and Gephel, who was sentenced to two years.
“In connection with the same case, five other people, whose identity remains unknown at the moment, have been sentenced to five years in prison,” Kungyam said.
Tseten, a 30-year-old father of two, died on the way to a hospital after police bundled him away on Dec. 3, 2013, from the site of his self-immolation at Meruma township center in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Tibetan sources had told RFA then.
As he set himself ablaze, Tseten had shouted slogans opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources said.
With his body engulfed in flames, Tseten managed to run for a distance along the main street before he collapsed, and local residents clashed with police as they tried but failed to stop security forces from taking the severely injured protester away.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 133 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.