Nine monks studying at Samye Monastery in Tibet were sentenced to varying prison terms between 2-15 years’ in jail for their participation in the last Spring Tibet protest in Lhoka Prefecture “Tibet Autonomous Region” (‘TAR’) and a monk committed suicide, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
In the series of court sentences of the Tibetan people involved in the last spring Tibet protests, more cases of court sentences and other extreme cases of Tibetan committing suicide due to intolerable sufferings are surfacing.
The Lhoka Intermediate People’s Court sentenced nine monks to varying terms between 2 -15 years’ in jail for their participation in the 15 March 2008 protest which took place at Samye government administrative headquarters in Dranang County (Ch: Zhanang xian), Lhoka (Ch: Shannan) Prefecture, “TAR”. They were detained at Lhoka Public Security Bureau (PSB) Detention Centre following a brief protest demonstration. The protest was joined by hundreds of Tibetans of Dranang County calling for the “swift return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet”, “religious freedom” and “human rights for Tibetans.” Although, the exact date of their court sentence could not be ascertained, however, the source said that they were known to have been sentenced in May-June 2008.
According to the source, following the protest the movement of the monastic populace were severely restricted that not a single monk was allowed to move in and out of the monastery for three days. After three days of complete lockdown, the County PSB officials along with the ‘Work Team’- ((Tibetan: las don ru khag, Chinese: gongzuo dui) specially formed units of government personnel sent to conduct “patriotic re-education” in an institution or locality)- arrived at monasteries to question each monk regarding the protest demonstration. During one such intense interrogation on 19 March 2008, a visiting scholar from Dorjee Drak Monastery to the Samye Monastery called Namdrol Khakyab from Nyemo County, Lhasa Municipality, “TAR,’ committed suicide leaving a note that accused of unbearable suppression by the Chinese regime and cited innocence of other monks of the monastery and took full responsibility for the protest demonstration.
According to the source, “Of the nine Tibetans sentenced, four were visiting Buddhist scripture masters to the Samye Monastery from other monasteries, and other five were monks of the Samye Monastery. Five monks are:
1) Gyaltsen of Tsona (Ch: Cuona) County, Lhoka Prefecture was sentenced to 15 years’ in jail;
2) Nyima Tashi, of Gongkar County (Ch: Gongga Xian), Lhoka Prefecture was sentenced to 13 years’ in jail;
3) Phuntsok (One name only) born in Kongpo, Nyingtri Prefecture ‘TAR’ and his parent were known to have shifted their home to Kyiray in Lhasa, was sentenced to 13 years’ in jail;
4) Tenzin Dawa, of Tsome County (Ch: Cuomei xian), Lhoka Prefecture, was sentenced to two years’ in jail
5) Rigden, of Dranang County, Lhoka Prefecture, was sentenced to 2 years’ in jail.
The visiting Buddhist scripture masters were identified as,
1) Tenzin Bhuchung of Phenpo Lhundup County, Lhasa Municipality and monk of Langthang Monastery was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment term;
2) Tenzin Zoepa, of Tsome County, Lhoka Prefecture and monk of Jowo Monastery, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment term;
3) Gelek of Lhodrag County (Ch: Luozha xian), Lhoka Prefecture and monk of Sang Ngag Choekor Monastery was sentenced to 2 years’ jail term
4) Ngawang Tenzin of Nagartse County (Ch: Lianggarze xian), Lhoka Prefecture and monk of Khathok Monastery was sentenced to 2 years’ in jail.
Following the protest demonstration, the Samye Monastery was forcibly closed for almost nine months from March till November 2008. There is no information on the exact location of their detention at the moment nor is there any information on their physical condition.
Suicides resulting from unbearable mental torture have also been recorded in the past. As a direct consequence of relentless oppression by the Chinese security forces, many anguished Tibetans attempted to and others took the drastic step of committing suicide to rid themselves of persistent physical and mental torture. Last year witnessed suicide even by monks who were known for their patience and resilience in the face of adversity. Such cases are clear indication of Tibetan monks being pushed to the extreme limits of endurance and helplessness in the face of oppression and repression by the Chinese authorities in Tibet.