07/19/2013, 00.00
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Tibet Buddhist monk sentenced to ten years for demanding freedom

Tsultrim Kalsang, 25, was convicted of "intentional murder" in the case of two young men who self-immolated. In reality, he is paying for his decision to demonstrate peacefully against the government in Beijing and for demanding the return of the Dalai Lama.

Lhasa (AsiaNews) - The Intermediate People's Court in Siling City sentenced a 25-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk, Tsultrim Kalsang, to ten years in prison for "intentional homicide". According to the judges, who are appointed by the local Beijing-controlled government, the monk pushed two young men to self-immolate on 30 June 2012 in protest against persecution by the Chinese government.

The monk comes from Nyatso Zilkar Monastery, in the eastern part of Tibet. Released after his first arrest with four other monks on 1 September 2012, he was later detained on two more occasions.

Reports about his conviction came from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), an organisation that monitors the human rights situation in Tibet.

For the TCHRD, the court's decision against the monk is due to his participation in a big non-violent demonstration held in Tibet on 8 February 2012.

On that occasion, hundreds of Tibetans protested against the restrictions imposed by the government in Beijing and called for the return of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism who lives in exile in India.

Immediately after the demonstration, the Tibetan government carried out dozens of arrests. Tsultrim Kalsang, who was among those taken into custody, refused to provide the authorities with the names of the organisers of the region-wide protest.

After being held for about ten months, the monk was released and returned to his monastery. There, according to the prosecution, he "conducted a campaign of incitement" against Ngawang Norphel and Tenzin Khedup, two youths who later set themselves on fire.

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