Two Tibetans Linked to Lhasa Self-Immolation Are Freed From Prison

tibet-phakmajigme-june32015.JPG Phakma and Jigme at the airport in Chengdu, Sichuan, after their release from prison, May 29, 2015.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener

UPDATED at 12:35 p.m. EST on 2015-06-24

Two Tibetans linked to a self-immolation protest three years ago in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa have been released from prison after serving their sentences and have returned to their homes in western China’s Sichuan province, sources said.

Phakma, the wife of a Lhasa restaurant worker, and her nephew Jigme were released on May 29 and were flown to Chengdu in western China’s Sichuan province, “where many of their friends and relatives were waiting to welcome them,” a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“They were taken to a local hospital for health checkups and finally reached their home in Ngaba [in Chinese, Aba] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on June 1,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“When they arrived, their relatives and members of their village community welcomed them by burning incense and juniper leaves, hoisting flags, and presenting them with ceremonial scarves,” he said.

Phakma, now 37, and Jigme had been detained “along with many other Tibetans” after two young men set themselves ablaze in the courtyard of Lhasa’s Jokhang cathedral on May 27, 2012, to challenge China’s rule in Tibetan areas, the source said.

The fiery protests were among the few to be reported in or near the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Almost all other self-immolations, now totaling 141, have been staged in Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces or in eastern prefectures of the TAR.

Phakma, a resident of Shogu village in Ngaba’s Lota township, has two daughters and a son, RFA’s source said, adding that her husband Kalkho was also linked to the self-immolation protest and was later sentenced to life in prison.

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

CORRECTION: The spelling of Phakma's husband's name is corrected to Kalkho.

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