Monks receive heavy sentences for “inciting” self-immolations

31st January 2013

“Suspended” death sentence after confession

Two monks arrested last year for allegedly inciting eight self-immolation protests have been sentenced in a Chinese court today. According to Chinese state media, Lobsang Konchok and his nephew (named as Lorang Tsering in Chinese) were sentenced to death with a two year reprieve, and ten years in prison respectively. “Reprieved” death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison.

Murder charges

Legal changes last year have made it possible for individuals accused of inciting fatal protests to face charges of murder. The two men were the first to face trial under the new provisions. According to the state media report, three people died as a result of undertaking protests under the influence of the two men, while in the other five cases the police intervened or those involved decided not to go ahead.

Risk of torture

The Chinese sources report that Lobsang Konchok, based at the Kirti monastery in Ngaba, confessed to using his position as a monk to encourage others to set themselves alight and then spread information about protests to foreign contacts. Criminal conviction in China may be made on the basis of confession alone, a situation which fosters the use of torture. Although evidence obtained by torture is technically inadmissible, the provision is routinely ignored. The UN has reported that torture is “widespread” and “routine” in Tibet.

Tried in a foreign language

His nephew also confessed, and received a lighter sentence as he was held to have had a secondary role. The trial was reported to be held in both Chinese and Tibetan, with court-appointed lawyers representing the two men, and court-appointed translators.

Take Action

Contact your Chinese embassy to demand that China ends human rights abuses in Tibet and addresses the grievances of the Tibetan people.