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Nine monks jailed for up to 15 years, whereabouts unknown

(TibetanReview.net, Feb 12) – Nine monks at Samye Monastery in Lhoka Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region were jailed for 2 to 15-year terms for their involvement in the Mar’08 Tibet uprising protests while one monk committed suicide due to unbearable torture, reported Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), citing “confirmed information”. The centre did not know when the sentencing took place and placed it anywhere in the period of May-Jun’08.

The report said the monks were sentenced by the Lhoka (Chinese: Shannan) Intermediate People’s Court for their participation in a brief protest on Mar 15 in front of the Samye government headquarters in Dranang County. The monks were joined by hundreds of local Tibetans who shouted slogans calling for the swift return of the Dalai Lama, religious freedom and human rights.

The protest had led to a severe crackdown on the monastery which was completely cut off from the outside world for three days, followed by the start of a patriotic re-education campaign. It was during an intense interrogation on Mar 19 that Namdrol Khakyab, a visiting scholar from Dorjee Drak Monastery in Nyemo County of Lhasa Municipality, committed suicide. He left a note, saying he was fully responsible for the protest, calling the other monks innocent, and alleging unbearable suppression by the Chinese authorities.

Four of the nine monks eventually sentenced were visiting scholars from monasteries in Lhokha and Lhasa. They were named as Tenzin Bhuchung (from Langthang Monastery of Phenpo Lhundup County in Lhasa Municipality, jailed for 15 years); Tenzin Zoepa from Jowo Monastery in Tsome County of Lhoka Prefecture, given 13 years); Gelek (of Sang-ngag Choekor Monastery in Lhodrag County of Lhoka Prefecture, given 2 years), and Ngawang Tenzin (of Khathok Monastery in Nagartse County in Lhoka Prefecture, given 2 years).

Those from Samye monastery itself were named as Gyaltsen (from Tsona County, jailed for 15 years) Nyima Tashi (from Gongkar County, jailed for 13 years); Phuntsok (born in Kongpo, Nyingtri Prefecture but shifted to kyirey in Lhasa, jailed for 13 years); Tenzin Dawa (from Tsomey County, jailed for 2 years), and Rigden (from Dranang County, jailed for 2 years.)

The authorities closed down the monastery after the protest, reopening it only in Nov’08. And although it has been at least seven months since the monks were sentenced, their whereabouts still remain unknown.

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