Nine Tibetans sentenced for organising Dalai Lama birthday celebrations

Dukda, who has been sentenced to 14 years
Dukda, who has been sentenced to 14 years

12th December 2016

Most of those sentenced had previously spent time in prison

Nine Tibetans in Ngaba, eastern Tibet, have been sentenced to prison after being found guilty of organising celebrations for the Dalai Lama’s birthday last year. The longest of the sentences handed out was 14 years in jail.

The nine, a mixture of monks, former monks and laypeople were sentenced by Barkham Intermediate court in Ngaba last week. Most of those sentenced had already spent time in prison before for carrying out protests.

Free Tibet’s research partner Tibet Watch has been able to verify the identities of the nine people sentenced.

Dukda, a 50-year-old monk from Soruma Village in Ngaba County, received the harshest sentence of 14 years. Dukda had been missing after his arrest at his monastic quarters in Kirti Monastery during the night in November 2015. He was arrested on suspicion of organising the Gyaton (The celebration of the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday) in Ngaba. He has already previously been in prison, having spent over a year in detention in 2008.

Lobsang Khedup

Lobsang Khedup, a 44-year-old monk (pictured above), was arrested on suspicion of being involved in a group on the Chinese social media application WeChat that dealt with offering prayers during the Gyaton celebration. He was given a 13 year prison sentence. He had previously received a prison sentence of three years in 2011 but was released early due to poor health.

Lodoe, a 41-year-old monk (pictured below), and Lobsang Gephel, a 29-year-old monk, received sentences of nine and 12 years respectively. They had also both spent time in prison before, with Lobsang Gephel serving nearly three years between May 2011 and 2013 and Lodoe spending two years in prison in 2011.

All three monks were arrested at their quarters in Kirti Monastery in late 2015. None have been seen since, with no information about their status or whereabouts currently known.

Lodoe

Several of those arrested were not monks. Tarey Kyi was sentenced to eight years in prison while Wonkho Kyi, 48, received a sentence of seven years. Wonkho Kyi (pictured below) was arrested in late November 2015 on suspicion of organising the Gyaton celebration in Ngaba. She spent time in detention for a few months between 2011 and 2012 and was later released but remained under surveillance.  

 

Three of those sentenced were formerly monks. Trotsik Tsultrim, 33, was sentenced to six years in prison. In 2008, when he was a monk, he was arrested as part of a group of six monks from Trotsik Monastery. He served a year and nine months in prison.

Ajaja (pictured below), 35 years old, who previously lived as a monk in Kirti Monastery, was arrested for the first time in 2011 following the self-immolation of Lobsang Phuntsok and sentenced to three years in prison. This time, he was given another five years.

Ajaja

Finally, Tsultrim, 32 years old, a father of two and a former monk from Kirti Monastery, was given six years. He too had previously served over a year in prison in 2008 for his participation in a protest.

A risky celebration

The Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday was observed across Tibet last year on 21 June. In the run up to the celebrations Chinese military and police had carried out crackdowns, including banning a horse racing competition and arresting two of the organisers. Despite this intimidation, on the date of the Dalai Lama’s birthday many Tibetans defied authorities and joined in with celebrations.

Celebrations of the Dalai Lama's birthday are banned in Tibet, along with images and recordings of him. Observances of his birthday in the past have been violently repressed

 

Take action

Tibetans continue to resist the occupation through protests, demonstrations and by expressing their unique culture. For their defiance they are punished with harassment, arrest and long prison sentences. Take action for Tibet’s political prisoners by writing to the Chinese authorities and telling them that the world is watching.