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China arrests Tibetan man who helped protect self-immolator’s body four years ago

An undated photo of Sangdhak Kyab
An undated photo of Sangdhak Kyab [RFA]
Chinese authorities recently arrested a Tibetan man because he helped to protect the body of a self-immolation protester from falling into the hands of the police four years ago in his hometown in Sangkhok Township in Labrang (Ch: Sangchu) County, Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) ‘Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’ (‘TAP’), Gansu Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo.

Sangdhak Kyab, 46, was arrested from his home at about 5 pm local time on 29 September in the presence of his second wife Sharkyi. He is currently being held at Wangkar Thang Detention Centre which is about 15 to 20 minutes drive away from Labrang County town. On 13 October, his family was allowed to visit and bring him food at the detention facility. It is believed that local police have sent a notification of his arrest to his family, as required by law.

Sangdhak Kyab had been evading arrest for about four years after he helped move the body of Thupwang Kyab to the latter’s home. Thupwang Kyab, resident of nomadic camp no. 4 in Sangkhok Township, died in the self-immolation protest he staged on 26 October 2012 calling for “Return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet” and “Release of the 11th Panchen Lama from house arrest”.

After Thupwang’s death, three Tibetans identified as Dorjee Namgyal, Jinpa, and Dorjee Tashi, along with Sangdhak Kyab assisted in moving Thupwang’s body home. Soon after the incident, local Chinese police launched a manhunt for the four men in which Sangdhak managed to escape. Dorjee Namgyal and Jinpa were each sentenced to two years and a half in prison; Dorjee Tashi received three years’ term.

Following the release of the three men after the completion of their terms, Sangdhak Kyab returned home to his wife and two children in nomadic camp no. 2 of Sangkhok Township thinking that he would no longer be pursued by the police. He was mistaken. The police arrested him and are now interrogating him at the Wangkar Thang Detention Centre. This is the same detention centre where prominent Tibetan monk activist Golog Jigme was detained for the third time in 2012.

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