Tibetan Monks Missing in Custody For Almost a Year Have Been Sentenced

tibet-thangkorsok-062117.jpg Ngaba's Thangkor Soktsang monastery is shown in a file photo.
Photo sent by an RFA listener.

Two Tibetan monks missing since last year after being detained by police in Sichuan have been sentenced to prison terms of from four to five years for engaging in “separatist activities,” Tibetan sources say.

Gendun Drakpa, 40, and Lobsang Sherab, 36, were convicted of passing politically sensitive information to contacts outside Dzoege (in Chinese, Ruo’ergai) county in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“They were put on trial sometime around June 17,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing sources in the Dzoege region.

“They were not allowed to seek the assistance of a lawyer and were not given a chance to speak in their own defense,” the source said. “They were also not allowed to meet with their parents or other relatives.”

Drakpa was sentenced to five years in prison, while Sherab was handed a four-year term, the source said, adding that Tibetans attending the trial as witnesses were forced to surrender their mobile phones to police.

It was not clear what information the monks were accused of passing or who the recipients were.

Shouted for help

When he was detained on Aug. 24, 2016, Drakpa was working as treasurer of Ngaba’s Thangkor Soktsang monastery, where Sherab was a worker in the monastery’s store, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Sherab and his roommates thought at first that the Chinese police officers entering their quarters had come to rob them, and shouted for help, sources said.

“But the security personnel pointed guns at them and told them to keep still,” one source said, adding, “One monk who resisted was forced down by five officers and was injured in the struggle.”

“Sherab was then shoved into a vehicle and driven away without even being allowed to put on his clothes,” he said.

Authorities in Tibetan-populated areas of China closely monitor Tibetans’ use of mobile phones and social media and harshly punish the spread of news or images of self-immolations and other protests challenging Chinese rule, sources say.

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

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