Tibetan jailed in Qinghai for 'goading' monk who called off self-immolation

Man who encouraged self-immolation as protest sentenced to 13 years in jail

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 4:06am


A court in a Tibetan area yesterday convicted a man of intentional homicide and inciting secession for "goading" a monk to set himself on fire, state media reported, even though the monk did not follow through.

Xinhua said the man, named as Phagpa, was sentenced to 13 years in jail by the court in Qinghai province.

Nearly 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 in apparent protest against Beijing's rule, which critics say represses Tibetan religious rights and erodes their culture as more majority ethnic Han move to Tibetan areas.

According to the Tibetan government in exile, 83 of them have died.

With the 100th incident approaching, authorities have embarked on an extensive publicity drive on the issue, with both Xinhua and state broadcaster CCTV covering it at length.

In the latest court case, Xinhua reported that Phagpa encouraged the monk, identified as Drolma Je, to self-immolate for "freedom and independence of the Tibetan ethnic group", but he was dissuaded by his sister.

The 27-year-old defendant was also found to have spread Tibetan independence "ideas" and incited demonstrations, the report said.

The monk's monastery is in Tongren county, the report said, an area that has become a flashpoint for a wave of self-immolation protests.

The judgment follows the murder convictions of two Tibetans last week for inciting others to burn themselves to death. One was given a suspended death penalty and the other 10 years in prison, state media reported.

Another six were convicted in a similar case.

The judgments were believed to be the first of their kind since judicial authorities were ordered to level murder charges in such incidents.

State media reported on Thursday that 70 people had been detained in Huangnan autonomous prefecture, which includes Tongren county, in connection with "a string of self-immolations" that have occurred since November.