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A year after arrest, monk sentenced to 6 years in prison over self-immolation

Undated photo of Gedun Gyatso (Top left) and four other monks arrested last year in Bora.
Undated photo of Gedun Gyatso (Top left) and four other monks arrested last year in Bora.

A Tibetan monk has been sentenced to six years in prison over self-immolation protest, more than a year after his arrest in Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province.

According to reliable information received by TCHRD, Gedun Gyatso, 47,  a monk from Bora Monastery was sentenced to prison on “intentional homicide” charges by the Sangchu County People’s Court. The sentence was passed on 10 December 2013. [See photo of the announcement by the County court on Gedun Gyatso’s sentencing] 

In December 2012, TCHRD reported the arrest of five monks including Gedun Gyatso from Bora Monastery, a day after Sungdue Kyap committed self-immolation protest on 2 December 2012 in Bora. Gedun Gyatso, along with four other monks: Lobsang Phagpa, 34, Jamyang Soepa, 25, Jamyang Lodoe, about 20, and Jamyang Gyatso, about 20, had gone missing for months after they were first arrested by Public Security Bureau (PSB) officers from Amchok (Ch: Amuqu) County along with Bora Township government officials. Except for Gedun Gyatso, the four other monks were released separately after being held for months. Lobsang Phagpa was released after about four months’ detention.

A copy of the announcement  regarding Gedun Gyatso's sentencing issued by Sangchu County People's Court on 6 December 2013. The document clearly states that 'Gedun Gyatso's sentencing would take place at 9 am on 10 December 2013.'
A copy of the announcement regarding Gedun Gyatso’s sentencing issued by the Sangchu County People’s Court on 6 December 2013. The document clearly states that ‘Gedun Gyatso’s sentencing would take place at 9 am on 10 December 2013.’

Sources tell TCHRD that Chinese authorities kept Gedun Gyatso in custody for over a year before his sentencing. Gedun Gyatso had refused to accept the charges imposed on him and even during the trial, he stood adamant that he was not guilty of “intentional homicide”. As source with contacts in the area says, “He [Gedun Gyatso] was falsely accused of “intentional homicide”. In fact, the two policemen who were at the site of Sungdue Kyap’s self-immolation claimed that Gedun Gyatso tried to stop them from extinguishing the fire. But he has not accepted the charge and the sentence was passed in spite of it.”

Gedun Gyatso was born in Lhabun Thangri Gapma village in Bora Township. His mother Sonam Tso is over 80 years old and had waited for over a year for news about her son. “No one has the heart to tell her the truth about her son. She still thinks that her son had gone for a long journey and would be back someday,” a source told TCHRD.

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