China sentences Tibetan monks to prison for April protests

(Photo: REUTERS / David Gray)Protesters supporting an independent Tibet lie on the ground holding placards as they hold a demonstration near the G20 leaders summit venue in Brisbane November 15, 2014. Leaders of the top 20 industrialized nations gather in Brisbane November 15-16 for their annual G20 summit.

Chinese authorities have jailed two Tibetan monks from Kirti monastery who, like others before them castigated the communist rule in their area, as Beijing continued its crackdown on dissent.

A court in Sichuan province sentenced Lobsang Tenpa, 19, to two years in prison, while Lobsang Gyatso, 20, to three years after it convicted them for protests against the government in April.

Citing sources who had informants in the region, Radio Free Asia reported on November 10 that both monks had been arrested immediately after their protest action.

On April 26, Tenpa took his grievances against the government to the streets, said Kanyak Tsering a Kirti monk living in exile.

As others who went before him, Tenpa carried a photograph of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and wrapped his head with a hand-drawn Tibetan flag.

"He called out for freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, and was quickly taken away by police," Tsering said. He added that Tenpa had been "tortured and harassed" during his time in detention.

Gyatso protested on April 2, and had similar demands as that of Tenpa, according to Tsering.

He managed to evade responding police officers who tried to arrest him. But the monk, who sought refuge at his monastery, was tracked down by police and arrested on April 15.

The People's Intermediate Court in Barkham country, which tried the two monks, allowed the families of both Tenpa and Gyatso to witness the trial.

But the court did not allow lawyers to defend both the accused, according to Tsering.

Kirti has seen protests such as self-immolation by monks and nuns who are against China's rule in Tibetan areas.

Authorities raided the monastery in 2011, sending monks to "political re-education." Locals who tried to protect the monks were beaten up and detained, according to earlier reports.

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