[Buddha-l] Chinese court re: Tibetan immolations

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 1 10:46:30 MST 2013

from the nyt (which recently revealed the Chinese govt has been hacking its 
offices and reporters).



January 31, 2013
Chinese Court Issues Severe Sentences in Tibetan Self-Immolations
BEIJING — A court in southwest China gave severe prison sentences on 
Thursday to two Tibetans who court officials said were guilty of urging 
eight people to self-immolate, three of whom died, according to a report by 
Xinhua, the state news agency.

One Tibetan, Lorang Konchok, 40, was sentenced to death with a two-year 
reprieve, which often means the convict will eventually get a lifetime 
prison sentence. His nephew Lorang Tsering, 31, was sentenced to 10 years in 
prison. The Xinhua report said the older Tibetan was also being stripped of 
his “political rights” for life, while the younger would have his stripped 
for three years.

The sentencing took place in Aba Prefecture of Sichuan Province, an area at 
the heart of the recent wave of self-immolations by Tibetans. Nearly 100 
Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest Chinese rule in 
Tibetan regions, which lie in western China but which many Tibetans say 
should be granted independence or true autonomy.

At least 81 died after their acts, according to the International Campaign 
for Tibet, an advocacy group based in London. Few other nations have been 
confronted by such a large wave of self-immolations as political protest.

Chinese officials have sentenced Tibetans before to prison sentences for 
what courts have said were their roles in promoting self-immolations, but 
Thursday’s sentences were among the harshest. There now appears to be a 
concentrated effort to rein in the self-immolations, which gathered pace in 
late 2012, by criminalizing both the act itself and helping or encouraging 
people to commit it.

On Dec. 3, a newspaper in a Tibetan area of Gansu Province published an 
editorial that said China’s supreme court, prosecution agency and Ministry 
of Public Security had issued “guidelines” that said, “The act of 
self-immolation by Tibetans is a crime.” The guidelines said assisting or 
encouraging self-immolations was considered intentional homicide, and those 
who committed self-immolation were also criminals and punishable by law if 
they “have caused severe damage,” according to the newspaper.

The Xinhua report on Thursday said the two monks “incited and coerced” 
eight people to self-immolate; three committed the act and died last year, 
and the others “willfully” abandoned their plans after the police 

The Chinese government has blamed the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual 
leader of the Tibetans, for encouraging the self-immolations, even though 
the Dalai Lama has not made any explicit statements in support of the acts. 
Tibetans have said in interviews that the self-immolations are genuine 
expressions of political anger and frustration at Chinese oppression, not 
the result of plots hatched by senior monks or other Tibetan leaders.

The two monks sentenced in Aba, which Tibetans called Ngaba, were detained 
in August 2012, according to a report in December by Xinhua. Both monks are 
from the Kirti Monastery, which was a site central to the earliest 

That Xinhua report said Lorang Konchok became involved in promoting 
self-immolations after being contacted by a “Tibetan independence 
organization” tied to the Dalai Lama. Xinhua said the contact took place 
after February 2009, when a young monk from Kirti named Tapey set fire to 
himself outside the monastery. Tapey did not die, but the second Tibetan to 
commit the act, Phuntsog, also from Kirti, killed himself in March 2011.

After Phuntsog’s death, a court sentenced three monks to long prison 
sentences in the first legal punishments handed out in relation to the 
self-immolations. Two monks were found guilty of involvement in Phuntsog’s 
self-immolation and one, an uncle of Phuntsog’s, was found guilty of 
refusing to turn his body over to the police at the time.

The Tibetans who have self-immolated have come from a variety of 
backgrounds. They include men and women, young and old, clergy and 
laypeople. So far this year, at least three Tibetans have self-immolated, 
all men. The second one, Tsering, who killed himself in Aba Prefecture on 
Jan. 18, is survived by a wife and two children.

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