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19september2012-002Dharamshala: On February 17, 2012, a monk named Damchoe Sangpo of Bongthak Monastery self-immolated in Sanga Village of Amdho Region in Eastern Tibet. As a response to the incident, Chinese police and army came to Bongthak Monastery and arrested numerous monks who may be related to Sangpo.


Although there are no sufficient basis for the arrest, polices claimed that all the monks had "contacts" outside Tibet since all of them had studied at Lhasa and had "outside exposure".
Roughly one month after the arrest, several monks were release at different time; however nine monks were given prison sentences.

The followings are the names of the monks with their corresponding sentences:
Damchoe Tsultrim - 2 years and 6 months,Khedup Gyatso - 10 years, Sangay Gyatso - 9 years, Konchok Gyatso - 1 year and 9 months, Kalsang Shangsem - 8 years, Kalsang Dakpa - 1 year, Sherap Gyatso - 1 year and 6 months, Jamyang Weoser - 3 years, and Dargye Gyatso - 2 years.

In addition, a lay-person named Damchoe was sentenced to two years at the same time.

Soon after Sangpo self-immolated, monks who were not yet 18 were sent back to their homes by the Chinese Government. The rest of the older monks were detained at the monastery for three months, and afterwards, they were sent back to their homes for a "holiday" for a period of 15 days. When they came back, a "patriotic re-education" campaign was conducted for them by the Chinese authorities.

During the detention period of three months, all the monks' mobile phones were confiscated. The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) reported that Bongthak monastery, which has around 80 monks, was cut off from the rest of the area with checkpoints to monitor and prevent anyone from entering or leaving. Security restrictions were tightened and phone lines were cut.

While the monks were sent home, police shut down the monastery and prohibited anyone from entering.Usually there are daily chants and prayer meetings in the monastery, butit is nowoccupied only by the cleaning staff, workers, as well as the Chinese authorities.

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