Chinese police beat, tortured family members of Tibetan self-immolator; 9 held, including 3 for taking pictures

A Tibetan protester lies in flames on a street in Machu county, Gansu, Dec. 8, 2016. (Photo courtesy: RFA)
A Tibetan protester lies in flames on a street in Machu county, Gansu, Dec. 8, 2016. (Photo courtesy: RFA)

(, Dec15, 2016) – Chinese police in Machu (Chinese: Maqu) County of Sichuan Province had detained eight Tibetans, including relatives and family members of Tashi Rabten, a 33-year-old father of three who had carried out a protest self-immolation and died on Dec 8, when they asked for the return of his body for the purpose of performing the last rites. Three other Tibetans accused of sending out video images of the self-immolation have also been detained.

The group of eight detained Tibetans included the deceased’s widow Bhopey, 35; his daughter Tashi Dolma, 16; and his son Tashi Dhondup, 13, a monk. They were held back when they visited the police station later in the evening of Dec 8 to seek the return of the deceased’s remains, said Dharamshala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Right and Democracy Dec 14.

After being held for several hours, daughter Tashi Dolma was released with five others. Tashi Dhondup was released later after his monastery signed a surety for him. However, Bhopey continued to be detained and subjected to intense interrogation and intimidation. The police wanted her to say that a domestic trouble led to her husband’s self-immolation and they also wanted to know about his contacts before the incident. She was finally forced to sign a document that supported a false Chinese story about the self-immolation before being released on Dec 9.

Radio Free Asia (Washington) Dec 13 cited its local source as saying the mother and daughter were beaten and tortured when they refused to go by the Chinese story that Tashi Rabten self-immolated due to trouble in the family. “Many who met Tashi Rabten’s wife and daughters after their release saw marks of physical abuse on their bodies,” the report quoted the source as saying.

The source has also said Chinese authorities raided the deceased’s home, “looking everywhere and taking photos as they searched “.

The reports added that three other Tibetans were held on Dec 9 on suspicion that they had taken still and video pictures of the self-immolation and sent them out. The centre named them as Bhenkho, Tenpa and Dorjee. Also detained was a woman named Tsezin Lhamo who could be seen and heard in one of the video clips praying in the name of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, as she witnessed the protest self-immolation.

The Radio Free Asia report also quoted its source as saying “four of her family members were detained with her, but were later released,” while Tsezin Lhamo herself continued to be detained.

The Chinese never returned the deceased’s body to his family but only his ashes after cremating it. A funeral service was then held at Tsendrok Monastery located in the deceased’s hometown of Trokho Meyma Township and to which his son belongs.


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