New Delhi: - Speaking at a press conference held Saturday (2 February) in New Delhi, Kirti Rinpoche, the head lama of Kirti monasteries, where more than 30 of the 99 self-immolations occurred, spoke out against the recent conviction of eight Tibetans for allegedly inciting self-immolations. Kirti Rinpoche, a former minister of the Tibetan administration in exile strongly condemned the harsh prison sentences for eight innocent Tibetans in his homeland in Ngaba county, eastern Tibet.
The six Tibetans were falsely accused of establishing links with outside groups and sending photographs of Tibetan self-immolators. Calling the sentences as unjustified and against international norms, Kirti Rinpoche said, the Chinese government is playing with the lives of innocent Tibetans and the world community should investigate what really is going on in Tibet.
He said, the eight Tibetans convicted are innocent, adding that the Chinese government have arrested them only because they are relatives or friends with the Tibetan self-immolators.
Kirti Rinpoche denied the charges leveled against the Tibetans and appealed the world media and international monitors to support their case and plead for justice.
Eight Tibetans including Lobsang Tsering who was given a death sentence with a two year reprieve, were pronounced with varying prison terms by two Chinese courts in Ngaba and Labrang on 31 January 2013.
When Rinpoche response to whyy are these self-immolation incidents concentrated in Ngaba area, he said from 1959 to 1985, he said, most of the Tibetans were driven into communes and forced to do hard labors. Many Tibetans met untimely deaths due to hard labor, starvation, suicide, torture etc.
"Although it is true that the Chinese government brought economic development, mainly infrastructure development, inside Tibet since 1985 but again, the question is who actually benefited from this development? Newly developed transport facilities, he said, assisted the Chinese government to extract resources from Tibet and facilitated in bringing in more Chinese immigrants into Tibet; newly constructed high raise buildings accommodated the government and military officials as well as elite community," Kirti Rinpoche added.
Rinpoche told the reporters that, "since Ngaba is on the frontline, Tibetans there had suffered for three generations: First during 1936-37 when the red armies of CPC undertook the Long March in Ngaba area they looted the monasteries and local grain-storages and compelled Tibetans of that generation to experience starvation for the first time in the region."
"Since 1959, his own generation had to undergo untold sufferings as a result of Chinese government’s repressive policy; and third since 2008, the younger generation who are brought up under the Red Flag have to undergo so much repression and suppression that teenagers who undertook self-immolation were forced to choose death over living under such a condition," Rinpoche added.
Therefore, Rinpoche stated that, it is 'apparent that it is an outburst of wound that has been inflicted for three generations. Rinpoche did emphasize that the teenagers who undertook self-immolation have offered their lives to draw attention to the plight of the Tibetans inside Tibet from both the Chinese authorities in Beijing as well as from international community.'
More than 45 reporters and media-persons attended the press conference at Jantar Mantar hall in New Delhi, where the Tibetan People's solidarity campaign successfully concluded. (Watch a short video of the event.)
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamsala, India on Friday 'categorically condemned the harsh prison sentences for eight Tibetans in eastern Tibet. It is unacceptable as the verdicts have been given out without due process and proper representation.'
Lobsang Kunchok, 40, of Kirti monastery and Lobsang Tsering, 31, from Ngaba, who received death sentence with a two-year reprieve and 10-year imprisonment respectively for allegedly inciting Tibetans to self-immolate by a Chinese court
The series of rushed sentences clearly show that Tibetans in Tibet are denied basic human rights. It is also evident that these are done in utter disregard to the Tibetan aspiration and deep anguish at the continuing self-immolations in Tibet. 99 Tibetans have self-immolated so far.
Tibet's administration in exile stated that it "holds the Chinese leadership solely responsible for the growing unrest and deteriorating situation in Tibet. We believe the world cannot remain a silent witness to this growing tragedy in Tibet."