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imageDharamsala – A local Chinese court in Siling (Chinese: Xining, capital of Qinghai Province), Amdho region of eastern Tibet has sentenced two Buddhist monks to three-year imprisonment each for their alleged roles in organizing traditional prayer service for a self-immolator and coordinating monks to attend his funeral ceremony.

The two Tibetan Buddhist monks; Tsondue, 27 and Gedun Tsultrim, 30 years old, were sentenced on April 18, 2013 to three years each for their alleged role in leading traditional funeral prayer services for Wangchen Norbu, who burned himself to death on November 19, 2012 in Yadzi county, Yarphel told The Tibet Post International, citing sources in the region.

According to the sources, "Both Tsondue and Tsultrim were arrested on November 21, 2012 from the Bidho Monastery,Yadzi county, Eastern Tso-ngon, Amdho province, North-Eastern Tibet (Chinese: Xunhua, capital of Qinghai Province, China.) Their current condition and whereabouts remain unknown."

On November 21, 2012, Wangchen Norbu died after setting himself on fire to protest against Chinese repressive rule and hardline policies in the Himalayan region.

"Before making their appearance in the court,the monastic community and other local Tibetans had strongly appealed to Chinese authorities to release the monks. The two were denied even to present their family members and relatives during their trials.

Sources stated that "Tsondue was charged over accusation of leading and organizing the prayer service at the funeral ceremony held at Bidho monastery, while Tsultrim was charged over accusation of coordinating Buddhist monks, preparing vehicles travel for attending the monks and collecting donations for the prayer service."

A Tibetan taken into custody is declared arrested only after a period ranging from several month to months, or even years. During the period of the initial detention there is no question of informing the family since he/she is 'legally' not arrested.

'The Chinese police constantly harassed and threatened the monks at Bidho monastery following the prayer service. Under the constant harassment, the two confessed to having organized and led the ceremony themselves,' sources stated.

Sources stated that the monks were taken to the Siling City recently and were forced to undergo 3 months of police custody. They have been told not to contact with their friends and family.

Basic grounds for arrest and imprisonment seem to be found in any kind of activity as common case in Tibet: Tibetans have been arrested for speaking with foreigners, writing about Tibet or singing patriotic songs, or putting up wall posters, or possessing copies of an autobiography of their beloved spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

As of now, the total number of self-immolation protests in Tibet has reached 118 since 2009, at-least 101 of them reportedly passed-away due to burn injuries. 

The most common call for the return of the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama to his homeland and freedom for Tibetans. The Chinese government, however, has accused His Holiness the Dalai Lama and exile Tibetans of orchestrating the waves of self-immolation protests by Tibetans in Tibet.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com