Tibetan monk tortured for sharing information about self-immolation

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, August 10: The Dharamshala-based research group Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) on Wednesday revealed new findings in a self-immolation case of Tenzin Sherab, 33, who died in 2013 in the county of Chumarleb in the Kyegu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in the Traditional Tibetan Province of Kham. A monk named Tseta at the local Adril monastery was detained for seven months shortly after Sherab’s death due to the self-immolation.

New findings in the decade-old case revealed how Tseta was detained on charges against him for “taking photos of Sherab’s body and sharing them with strangers”. “He was severely beaten and tortured in detention and forced to confess to his role in publicizing the information about the self-immolation,” the report added.

The monastery concerned also suffered; Chinese authorities deployed armed police and issued stern orders to close the monastery if another monk engaged in “separatist activities”. The monks were also forced to attend a series of political education sessions to show their “gratitude and loyalty” to the communist regime. Local police accused the 25-year-old monk of colluding with Sherab’s brothers, Thubten Dol and Jigkay, to take pictures of the deceased’s body.

Shortly after the self-immolation, local authorities claimed in local media that Sherab committed suicide because his girlfriend broke off their relationship. It was also reported that he fathered an 8-year-old daughter. Local state media further accused Tseta of “twisting the suicide into a self-immolation”.

A source close to the deceased informed TCHRD, “[Sherab] was a sensitive man fully aware of the many self-immolations that had taken place before him. Each self-immolation caused him great grief and he used to be anguished by the utter despair faced by his fellow Tibetans suffering under Chinese rule. Sherab was also among the affected nomadic families who had been forced to resettle under Chinese government policy.