05/07/2011, 00.00
TIBET - CHINA
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Kirti, 2 Buddhist monks sentenced to three years in prison

by Nirmala Carvalho
Monastery under police siege, no-one allowed enter or leave 300 monks deported, those remaining forced to submit to "patriotic re-education." Exiled Tibetans in India protest against the siege and demand action by the international community.

Dharamsala (AsiaNews) - The monks Lobsang Dhargye and Kunchok Tsultrim of Kirti monastery, Ngaba County in Tibet, have been sentenced to three years in prison. China continues its harsh crackdown against the monastery for a month under siege by police.

The sentence was handed down on May 2, but was denounced yesterday by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). Lobsang, 31, was arrested during anti-Chinese protests in 2008, imprisoned for five months and then sent back  home to his native village in Ngaba County, under constant police surveillance. On 11 April, the police raided the monastery of Kirti and took him away.

Kunchok, 33, was in charge of the monastery. He too was taken away by police during a raid of 16 March.

In both cases the exact charges are unknown. The monastery has been under police siege for weeks following the episode of Monk Phuntsok, from Kirti, who set himself on fire in protest March 16, 2011 coinciding with the third anniversary of the revolt of 2008 (03/17/2011 Young Tibetan monk sets fire to himself in memory of the dead of March 2008). Shortly after several hundred police and soldiers surrounded the monastery, preventing everyone from leaving or entering, even to bring food to the monks. On April 21 the police raided the monastery, clashing with the people who tried to defend the monks, two elderly died from beatings. The police took away about 300 monks in an unknown place.

Now the monks have been subjected to mandatory sessions of "patriotic re-education", while the monastery is constantly guarded by plainclothes police in vehicles. Cameras are placed all around. No food or supplies are allowed enter.

In recent days in New Delhi, hundreds of Tibetan monks marched in protest against the siege of Kirti (pictured: a moment of an earlier peaceful protest in India against the siege at Kirti). The TCHRD and other Tibetan groups in exile are asking the international community to intervene against the true "segregation" without charges and without trial, of the Kirti monks.

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