A Tibetan prisoner linked to a 2012 self-immolation protest in northwestern China’s Qinghai province has been moved to an emergency care facility in the provincial capital Xining after complaining of severe stomach pain, sources said.
Phuntsok, believed to be in his 50s, was one of three nonmonastic tantric practitioners, or ngakpas, taken into custody during mass detentions following the self-immolation of Damchoe Sangpo, a monk at the Bongtak monastery in Themchen (in Chinese, Tianjun) county in the Tsonub (Haixi) Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Sangpo, aged about 40, set himself ablaze and died on Feb. 17, 2012 after protesting Chinese security intrusions at his monastery, sources said in earlier reports.
Phuntsok and fellow ngakpas Jampa and Sherab—all affiliated with the Sang-ngak Tengye Norbu Ling practice center in Themchen—were detained along with other Tibetans shortly afterward on suspicion of involvement in the protest or of spreading news of it abroad, and were later sentenced to prison terms of from four to six years.
“Recently, Phuntsok, the oldest of the three, has suffered from severe problems with his stomach, and he has been transferred from prison to the Qinghai Red Cross Hospital in Xining,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“He is guarded there by armed police, and his family members are not allowed to visit him,” he said.
Damchoe Sangpo’s fiery protest was the 22nd of the now 142 self-immolations committed to date by Tibetans protesting Beijing’s policies and rule in Tibetan areas of China.
He had objected to the canceling by Chinese authorities of a traditional prayer festival held by the monastery and to the presence at the monastery of Chinese security forces, sources said at the time.
Security measures had already been tightened at Bongtak following an earlier protest by a monk protesting Chinese mining operations in the area.
Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.