News / Asia

    Tibetan Monks Face Chinese Justice in Self-Immolation Case

    Exiled Tibetans light candles in front of portraits of 16-year-old monk Phuntsog, during a candlelit vigil to honor the monk who set himself on fire in an anti-government protest, in Dharmsala, India, March 16, 2011
    Exiled Tibetans light candles in front of portraits of 16-year-old monk Phuntsog, during a candlelit vigil to honor the monk who set himself on fire in an anti-government protest, in Dharmsala, India, March 16, 2011
    Ivan Broadhead

    After the suicide earlier this year of a young Tibetan Buddhist monk, who killed himself in protest at Beijing’s restrictions on religious freedom, two more monks face a "politically-motivated" trial in China Tuesday.

    Tenchum and Tsering Tenzin are charged with "instigating and assisting" the death of Rigzin Phuntsog.

    The 16-year-old monk died March 16 after setting fire to himself at Kirti monastery in China’s Sichuan province, close to the Tibetan border.

    Kirti’s Tibetan Buddhist monks have staged several open protests defying Beijing’s authority since March 2008, when the worst anti-Chinese protests in a generation were violently suppressed across China’s ethnically Tibetan regions.

    Robert Barnett, a Tibetan analyst at New York’s Columbia University, says these prosecutions are unusual, even in Tibetan areas, where a formal charge means an almost certain conviction.

    "This looks like the situation that we are seeing that local officials or maybe central officials have decided to make these cases as an example to deter other Tibetans to protest," he said.

    Tuesday’s trial follows that of the deceased’s uncle, Drongdru, a lama at the monastery. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for intentional homicide after a day-long hearing Monday.

    China’s official Xinhua news agency reports that Drongdru, 46, concealed his nephew for 11 hours after the suicide bid, preventing Phuntsog from accessing life-saving treatment.

    Activists dispute this allegation, insisting that monks rescued Phuntsog from Chinese police, who began to assault him after extinguishing the fire.

    "The trial is a clear escalation in terms of reprisals for cases of self-immolation [and] the first time we have heard of such an action by the government,” said Nicholas Bequelin, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch.

    In the past, most Tibetans involved in protests have been charged under state security laws. Tibet watchers say homicide charges mark a significant change in tactics by prosecutors that lead to longer prison sentences. Bequelin says this appears to be part of a broader effort by local officials to reign in the Kirti monastery.

    "I think one of the objectives of this arrest is to break the spiritual back of Kirti, which has proven to be a very stubborn center of Tibetan identity and religiosity," he said. "Earlier this year, the government detained several hundred monks and disappeared them - essentially warehousing them in a government facility and carrying [out] political indoctrination."

    At the time, Chinese officials said the monks needed to undergo “legal education” for disobeying Tibetan Buddhist rules and disrupting local order. Following protests from the United States and human rights groups over the detentions, Beijing officials called on critics to stop making "irresponsible remarks."

    The trials follow a month of significant political change in Tibet affairs. Last week Beijing removed Zhang Qingli, the hardline Communist Party Secretary in Lhasa who ordered the 2008 crackdown.

    Zhang’s successor, the former governor of Hebei province Chen Guoquan, vowed in his first speech in office “to resolutely carry on the Central Party’s instructions and policies regarding Tibet”.

    Meanwhile the exiled Tibetan community elected Lobsang Sangay its new prime minister August 8.

    "Of course, he has nowhere near the fame and respect that the Dalai Lama commands. Therefore it’s not clear how much political capital he can mobilize inside Tibet," said Bequelin.

    The Harvard-educated lawyer is the first Tibetan leader to be born in exile, and is expected to assume many of the secular duties of the aging Dalai Lama. It is still unclear how China will ultimately react to the shifts in the Tibetan exile government.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora