Uncle of Tibetan self-immolator sentenced to prison

A senior monk who is also an uncle of a Tibetan self-immolator was sentenced to prison early this month on charges that he carried the ashes of his nephew from Rongwo Monastery to his nephew’s home during a procession last year in Rebkong (Ch: Tongren) County in Malho (Ch: Huangnan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.

According to information received by TCHRD, Yarphel, 42, a monk from Yershong Monastery was sentenced to one year and three months in prison. Recent propaganda documents distributed by Chinese authorities had criminalised any kind of processions or rallies that pay tribute to the memory of those who died of self-immolations. According to these documents, taking out public processions and carrying bodies of self-immolators and obstructing the traffic and disrupting public order are liable to be charged under articles 290 and 291 of Criminal Law. Click here for full report]

Sources told TCHRD that the sentence was passed around evening on 1 March 2013. Until Sunday, Yarphel was held at a detention centre in Dagmar area; he was expected to be moved to a prison facility on Monday, 4 March 2013. There are no details yet on how the trial was conducted or whether the confessions were obtained using legal methods.

Yarphel of Yershong Monastery sentenced to prison

Yarphel of Yershong Monastery sentenced to prison

TCHRD had earlier reported on the detention and arrest of Yarphel, along with fellow monk, Rabyang, on 2 February 2013. Rabyang was released after hours of interrogation as he is chronically sick and apparently the prison authorities were apprehensive he might die in prison. As death in detention due to torture and beatings is not uncommon in Tibet, the authorities have been careful to avoid circumstances that they could control.

During a peaceful procession held to mark the self-immolation of Yarphel’s nephew Dorjee Lhundup last year, Yarphel carried a photograph of Dorjee Lhundup and Rabyang carried a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Yarphel hails from Dagkar Village and his father’s name is Lubum Gyal.

Yarphel’s nephew, Dorjee Lhundup, a farmer in his 20s and a father of two children, died of self-immolation in Rebkong on 4 November 2012, days before the Chinese Communist Party held its 18th Party Congress to appoint China’s new leadership.

According to new information received by TCHRD in August 2013, Yarphel is being held in Tongkor Re-education Through Labour (Ch: Laojiao) prison in Xining, capital of Qinghai Province.