Tibetan self-immolator released with amputated leg

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, April 6: One of the two Tibetan monks who self-immolated in eastern Tibet in 2011 has been released with an amputated leg.

Chinese authorities have released Lobsang Kunchok after serving almost six years’ sentence on March 28 from Deyang prison in Sichuan province with an amputated leg, according to a report published on by the Dharamsala-based Tibetan rights group, Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

Lobsang Kunchok self-immolated with another Kirti Monk, Lobsang Kelsang on September 26, 2011 in Ngaba county town in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo.

Lobsang Kunchok after release from prison. Image - TCHRD
Lobsang Kunchok after release from prison.
Image – TCHRD

Upon his release, Kunchok is confined to his home in Meruma Town in Ngaba county while the Chinese authorities closely monitor his meetings with friends and relatives. The monk has been further restricted from re-joining his monastery and visiting the county town, the report added.

Prior to the report of his release, there was no information about his status since his arrest. After the duo, Lobsang Kunchok, then 18 and Lobsang Kelsang, 19 staged a joint self-immolation protest on Sep 26, 2011 the Chinese authorities put off the flame and whisked them away.

Kunchok, whose condition was critical at the time of his detention, was met with discrimination and hostility during his treatment at the Chinese government hospital as the hospital staff labeled them enemy of the state and social stability.

Though speculation is rife that Kunchok may have been charged with ‘endangering public security’ as made evident by the local Chinese authorities directive issued in May 2006 in the restive Ngaba region, even after Kunchok’s release it lacks clarity as on what charges he was detained in the first place. There is still no information about Lobsang Kelsang since his detention.

Of the 147 Tibetans to have self-immolated since 2009, only 18 are known to have survived. Pressed most likely with the charges of ‘endangering public security’, all the survivors are put under arrest with sentences ranging from three to ten years.