Three Tibetans sentenced to up to 3 years in prison on murder charge in connection with self-immolation

DHRAMSALA, Nov 5: Three Tibetans have been sentenced to up to three years in prison on alleged ‘murder charge’ in Meruma, Ngaba County in Amdo Province (incorporated into present day Sichuan) in connection with a Tibetan man’s self-immolation last year in the same county, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet, a Dharamsala-based Tibetan ex-political prisoners’ organization made the announcement at a press conference held here today.

An Undated photo of Dolma Tso.
An Undated photo of Dolma Tso.

On Nov 3, at 9:30 am (local time), Meruma People’s Court passed the judgment on the three Tibetans, Gerik Tsang Dolma Tso (female), Ghoge Tsang Konme (male) and Marli Tsang Gephel (male) for allegedly ‘murdering’ Kunchok tseten, a 30-yr-old Tibetan father of two who reportedly set himself alight in December last year in Meruma in protest against the Chinese government’s repressive rule in Tibet.

Gerik Tsang Dolma Tso of Town No. 3 and Ghoge Tsang Konme of Town No. 2 in Meruma were sentenced for three years’ imprisonment and withdrawal of political rights and Marli Tsang Gephel of Town No. 4 in Meruma was given 2 years’ imprisonment.

According to earlier reports, following Kunchok Tseten’s self-immolation protest, a brief clash ensued between Chinese security forces and local Tibetans who tried to prevent the self-immolator from being taken away. The security forces finally seized the self-immolator’s body and took him away. Later, Kunchok’s 28-yr-old wife Namnang and some of his relatives as well as several local Tibetans who were involved in the clash with the security forces were also arrested.

Kungyam, brother of Dolma Tso who was present at the press conference said his sister has been falsely charged with murder for trying to prevent the Chinese security forces from taking Kunchok’s charred body away.

“When Kunchok Tseten committed self-immolation, Dolma Tso tried to offer help by lifting up his charred body into the vehicle. For this act of generosity and help, the Chinese police arrested her on suspicion that she has had links with the self-immolation. While in detention, she was beaten and tortured severely,” Kungyam said.

“Then on the morning of 3 November 2014, around 9. 30 am, the people’s court of Ngaba county sentenced her to three years in prison for committing murder. The judges told Dolma Tso that if she accepted the court’s verdict of murder, she would be shown leniency, such as giving lesser years of prison sentence and less restrictions on her freedom of movement.”

However, according to Kungyam, his sister Dolma Tso protested in the court by shouting, “I haven’t murdered Kunchok Tseten. He died out of self-immolation. When I came to pick his body up, he was already dead. I have simply lifted his body up and put it into the vehicle. I haven’t committed any murder at all. At the time, I was the only person there. As I have told you during months of interrogation that you subjected me to, I don’t want to change my statement.”

Tenpa and lobsang Gyatso, both monks of Kirti monastery who were arrested following Kunchok’s self-immolation are still being kept in detention and identity of five other detainees who were arrested with them remains unknown, according to Kungyam.

An undated photo of Dolma Tso and Kungyam’s father, Gerik, mother Dhonkho and sister metok.

Kungyam’s family has been resisting Chinese government’s repressive rule in Tibet for the past three generations and often paid the price in the form of imprisonment, torture and even life.

“Our family hails from Gestang village, Meruma, Ngaba County, Amdo, Tibet. My grandfather Gepe Lila was sentenced to nine years in prison by the Chinese government. He died while in prison. My grandmother was accused of ‘wearing criminal black hat.’ She died out of torture. My father, Gerig, was beaten severely for a month. He was accused of denouncing China’s patriotic re-education campaign in a leaflet he pasted on the walls on 12 March 1998. He was arrested and tortured for the second time on 17 March 2008. Then he was sentenced and beaten for a year for releasing information about the self-immolation of Kirti monastery’s monk Lobsang Phunstok on 19 March 2011. My mother, Donkho, too was beaten and detained for several days. My sister Metok was arrested and detained. She was beaten so severely that her brain got damaged. During that time many relatives of mine had to flee Tibet into exile. Therefore the whole generation of my family have been tortured and imprisoned by the Chinese government,” Kungyam said at the press conference, recalling the harsh events his family had to go through in the past.

Pasang Tsewang, President of Gu-Chu-Sum movement of the Tibet urged the Chinese government under the leadership of Xi Jinping to stand up to their repeated assertion of ‘national unity’ and ‘ethnic harmony’ and release the three Tibetans as well as other prisoners of conscience in Tibet. He also appealed to the international community and special rapporteurs of UN and various nations to urge the Chinese government to release all Tibetan prisoners of conscience.

“Today, taking this opportunity, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement Association of Tibet appeals the People’s Republic of China under the leadership of Xi Jiping to stand up to the repeated assertion of “national unity” and “ethnic harmony”. We urge you to implement the recent endorsement of “rule of law” in the Fourth Plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committees and release the innocent Dolma Tso, Konme and Gephel and other Tibetan prisoners of conscience in Tibet,” said Pasang Tsewang.

“We request the governments across the globe, United Nations and the truth and equality loving people of the world to support this cause. We especially request the special rapporteurs of UN and the various nations going to Tibet to emphasize on the unconditional release of the Tibetan prisoners of conscience,” Pasang Tsewang further added.





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