A Tibetan monk who set himself on fire in Sichuan in a 2011 protest challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas was freed from prison at the weekend after serving his full term, sources in the region said.
Lobsang Kalsang, now in his early 20s, was released from Deyang prison on July 29 and returned to his home in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county the same day, a Tibetan living in the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Many Tibetans who learned of his sudden release gathered to welcome him with traditional scarves,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The [Chinese] authorities are trying their best to restrict news of his release in order to prevent high levels of publicity inside and outside Tibet,” the source said.
Kalsang and fellow Kirti monastery monk Lobsang Konchok set themselves ablaze at a major intersection of the Ngaba county seat on Sept. 26, 2011 while shouting slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, another local source told RFA.
Soon afterward, Chinese police arrived and took them away, the source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity
“Nothing was heard of Kalsang’s condition until his release, and even now the true state of his health is not fully known,” he said.
Kalsang’s protest partner Lobsang Konchok was freed on March 28, 2017 with an injured leg and was immediately taken by police to a nomadic area far from his family home, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
Kirti monastery and Ngaba’s main town have been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests in recent years by monks, former monks, and other Tibetans opposed to Chinese rule.
Reported by Kunsang Tenzin and Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.