Monk sentenced to ‘intentional homicide’ for protecting a self-immolator released after 10 years

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Lobsang Tenzin after his release.

Lobsang Tenzin, now 32, was released recently after serving 10 of the 13-year prison term in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, in the Tibetan province of Amdo. The exact date of his release is unknown.

Lobsang Tenzin was 22 and a monk at the local Kirti Monastery when he was arrested on 23 March 2011 along with two other fellow monks on the charges of ‘intentional homicide’ following the self-immolation of Lobsang Phuntsok on 16 March 2011.

On 28 August 2011, Lobsang Tenzin was sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang) People’s Intermediate Court.

He did not confess to the charges and was denied fair trial rights or access to legal representation.

The reasons behind his early release remain unknown although it is quite common for the prison authorities to release a prisoner prematurely to avoid his or her death in prison and therefore helping the authorities avoid any responsibility for the unnatural deaths.

There has been no information on Lobsang Tenzin’s health condition since his release. “We are deeply concerned about Lobsang Tenzin’s physical and psychological health conditions since cases of early release in the past proved to be a strategy of avoiding death in detention following torture and deprivation of medical care,” said Nyima Woeser, a researcher at TCHRD.

The deaths of Goshul Lobsang in 2014 and Shonu Palden in 2018 provide evidence that torture is responsible for many deaths in Tibetan detention facilities.

Following his early release, Lobsang Tenzin has returned to his hometown of Chukle Gabma village in Cha Township, Ngaba County.