Two teenage Kirti monastery monks given lengthy terms for solo protests
DHARAMSALA, Dec 4: China has sentenced two teenage monks of Kirti monastery to lengthy jail terms for carrying out solo protests against the Chinese government in traditional Amdo province.
According to the exile seat of Kirti monastery in Dharamsala, a Chinese court in Li county (Tibetan: Tashiling Dzong) in Amdo’s Ngaba prefecture sentenced Kirti monk Gedun Phuntsok, aged 18 to four years’ imprisonment around the end of October this year. No further details are available except that he was immediately taken to Mianyang prison near Chengdu where most of the political prisoners in Sichuan are held.
Carrying a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama adorned with a yellow khatak (Tibetan ceremonial scarf), Gedun staged a solo protest on Mar 8 calling for the return of His Holiness to Tibet and demanded equality and freedom for Tibetans in Tibet. Since his arrest that day, nothing had been heard of him until now.
Born to father Tragya and mother Riko, Gedun hails from Chukle Gabma pastoral area in Cha village. He joined the monastery at a young age and graduated from the preliminary class last year.
Another Kirti monk, Losang Kelsang, aged 19 and a cousin of Gedun Phuntsok was also sentenced by the court in Li county to three and half years’ imprisonment on Nov 2 and taken to Mianyang prison. No further details of the trial are known.
Losang staged his solitary protest around 3:40 pm (local time) on Mar 17 on the main street of Ngaba county. Carrying a portrait of the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he threw prayer flags in the air and shouted “Freedom for Tibetans” and “Long live His Holiness the Dalai Lama”.
Like Gedun, Losang’s whereabouts after his arrest had remained unknown until now.
He is also from Chukle Gabma and is the second of the three children of father Tsering and mother Dechen. He joined the monastery at a young age, and was studying in class two at the time of his arrest.