Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province on Tuesday sentenced a Tibetan monk to three years in prison for staging a solitary protest in Ngaba county opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, sources in the region and in exile said.
The monk, who was identified only by his first name Lobsang, was sentenced in a secret trial, with none of his close family members informed at first of the verdict, a Tibetan man living in Switzerland told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“Lobsang will serve his sentence at the prison in Maowun [Mao] county,” the source named Sonam said, citing contacts in the Ngaba area.
Lobsang was taken into custody in September last year after calling out in public for Tibetan freedom and the long life of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, “and was severely tortured and beaten during his ten months in detention,” Sonam said.
Lobsang’s protest followed three similar protests in Ngaba that week, one earlier that same day and two others a few days before.
Separately, a Tibetan source inside Ngaba confirmed Lobsang’s sentencing, saying that his Sept. 10, 2015 protest and subsequent detention had occurred “at a time when the Chinese had clamped down on internet and phone connections in Ngaba.”
“So nothing was reported in the news media until now,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Lobsang had staged his protest on a street locally known as Heroes’ Road in the Ngaba county seat, he said.
“Chinese police quickly overpowered him and beat him severely in front of bystanders,” the source said, adding, “He had been held in secret ever since, and his whereabouts remained unknown until he was sentenced.”
Details of Lobsang’s physical condition are still unknown, and his family members and other relatives remain deeply concerned about his health, he said.
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 Sonam Wangdu, Lobe Socktsang, and Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.