12/07/2020

Wonpo Monastery: China sentences three monks up to 4 years in prison

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Sonam Gonpo
Sonam Gonpo, 22 , sentenced to four years in prison on unknown charges.

Three Tibetan monks detained last year from Wonpo Monastery have been sentenced to prison, with two monks receiving four years each and another receiving one year in prison. Wonpo Monastery is located in Wonpo Village in Dzamey Township of Dzachuka area in Sershul (Ch: Shiqu) County, Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province.

According to information received by TCHRD, three monks from Wonpo Monastery: Choedar, Sonam Gonpo and Sonam Choedar were sentenced to prison this month. They were detained incommunicado since their arrests in late 2012.

On 9 September 2013, Choedar, 47, was sentenced to one year in prison, less than a year after his detention in mid-October 2012. Choedar was detained along with two other monks:  Kyapey, 27, and Lobsang Mithrug, 25, both of whom have been released, but they have been deprived of political rights for three years. Their release was granted after family and relatives of both monks provided guarantee letters pledging not to indulge in ‘political activities’.

The three monks were among the many detained between 15 and 25 October 2012 in a crackdown launched by the Chinese authorities after local Tibetans pulled down a Chinese flag and threw leaflets calling for freedom on 7 September 2012. Choedar is currently being imprisoned at Ra-nga Prison in Minyak region in Kardze Prefecture.

Sonam Choedar, 22, sentenced to four years in prison on unknown charges.
Sonam Choedar, 22, sentenced to four years in prison on unknown charges.

On 11 September 2013, Sonam Gonpo, 22, and Sonam Choedar, 22, were each sentenced to four years in prison after being detained on 15 December 2012 from Wonpo Monastery. They were detained along with four other monks:  Lobsang Khedup, 22, Lobsang Yigngey, 19, Lobsang Norbu, 20, and Tenzin Gedun, 24. The four monks have been released after being held for months in Rongdrag (Ch: Danba) County.

Choedar, 47, sentenced to three years in prison on unknown charges.
Choedar, 47, sentenced to one year in prison on unknown charges.

Wonpo area has been under intense surveillance and restrictions since 2008 uprising. Monks at Wonpo Monastery had steadfastly refused to hoist Chinese flags on their monastery and the ensuing crackdown led to scores of arbitrary detention, arrest and unlawful searches of Tibetan homes by Chinese security personnel. Exile Tibetan sources also reported a suicide protest by a woman named Tri Lhamo, who died after security officers launched arbitrary raids at homes trampling upon pictures of the Dalai Lama.

On 4 February 2012, local Tibetans pulled down a Chinese national flag from a government school building in Wonpo, one day after three self-immolation protests took place in the region. On 7 September 2012, local Tibetans pulled down a Chinese flag and hoisted a Tibetan flag on top of a school building in Dzachuka area. Leaflets calling for freedom were left scattered at the flag-raising site.

From top left: Tenzin Gedun, Kyapey, Sonam Choedar, Lobsang Norbu and Lobsang Mithrug
From top left: Tenzin Gedun, Kyapey, Sonam Choedar, Lobsang Norbu and Lobsang Mithrug.
From bottom left: Choedar, Sonam Gonpo, Lobsang Yigngey and Lobsang Khedup.