China: Tibetan self-immolator released after serving five-year term
May 12, 2017, 9:58 am
A young monk who set himself on fire five years ago in Sichuan in a protest challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas was released from prison on Wednesday after serving his full term, according to a Tibetan source in exile.
Lobsang Gyatso, 24, set himself ablaze on Feb. 13, 2012 in the Ngaba county seat in the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, but survived his burns and was beaten and taken into custody by Chinese security forces.
“[Gyatso] was released on May 10 and arrived back at his home in Ngaba at around midnight,” a Tibetan living in Switzerland told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing sources in Ngaba.
“He was subjected to extreme torture and harassment during the five years and three months he was held in custody,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
No word was immediately available regarding Gyatso’s present state of health.
Gyatso, a monk belonging to Ngaba’s Kirti monastery, had shouted slogans calling for Tibetan freedom during his self-immolation protest, sources told RFA in earlier reports.
“[But] armed security officers and special forces quickly arrived and extinguished the flames, beating him as he burned,” one source said.
Two other young Tibetans and a monk were also assaulted by police, sources said, adding that one of the two young men was able to escape with the help of a crowd that had gathered.
The other, who was taken away, was seen to be bleeding badly from injuries to his head and arm, sources said.
On March 28, Lobsang Konchok, another monk belonging to Ngaba’s Kirti monastery, was released after serving a five-year term and was immediately taken by police to a nomadic area far from his family home, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Konchok had also survived his self-immolation protest, but lost a leg during treatment for his burns and was subjected to torture and other kinds of harassment during his time in prison, the source said.
Kirti monastery and Ngaba’s main town have been the scene of repeated self-immolations and other protests in recent years by monks, former monks, nuns, and other Tibetans opposed to Chinese rule.