Tibetan Self-Immolation Survivor Freed From Prison in Sichuan

Tibetan pilgrims are shown outside Ngaba's Kirti monastery in a file photo.

A Tibetan monk jailed for over five years after surviving a self-immolation protest in Sichuan’s Ngaba county was released from prison this week after serving his full sentence, Tibetan sources in the region said.

Lobsang Konchok, a monk belonging to Ngaba’s Kirti monastery, was freed on March 28 and was immediately taken by police to a nomadic area far from his family home in Ngaba, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“His relatives were not informed of the date of his release, and no one was allowed to go to welcome him,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The authorities are not permitting him to visit his home in Ngaba’s Meruma township and are keeping him secluded from the public in a nomadic place far away,” he said.

Konchok had completed his term at Sichuan’s Deyang prison earlier this month, but his release was delayed owing to tensions in the Ngaba area during the anniversary of a failed March 10, 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

Though authorities had hoped to keep news of Konchok’s release from spreading, “one of his friends from Kirti monastery heard about it and went to see him on March 29, and then word quickly spread to others,” a second local source said, also speaking on condition he not be named.

Konchok had lost a leg during treatment for the burns suffered in his protest and was subjected to torture and other kinds of harassment during his time in prison, RFA’s  sources said.

In a Sept. 26, 2011 protest, Konchok had set himself ablaze at a major intersection in Ngaba county’s main town after shouting slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Surviving his burns after being overpowered by police, he was quickly taken to a hospital in Sichuan’s Barkham (in Chinese, Ma’erkang) county for treatment and was later jailed, sources said.

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, nuns, and other Tibetans opposed to Chinese rule in Tibetan areas.

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


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