Dolma Tso released after three years in prison

Dolma Tso, after release from prison, Dec 2016

7th December 2016

Political prisoner welcomed home by hundreds in her community

Dolma Tso, from Ngaba (Ch: Aba) County, was arrested on 3 December 2013, following the self-immolation of Kunchok Tseten in Meruma (Ch: Maierma) Township. Dolma Tso had helped to move Kunchok Tseten's body into a vehicle after he set himself on fire, for which she was detained and tortured. At the time, around 20 locals had also been detained but most of them were released after a few days.

On 3 November 2014, Dolma Tso was sentenced to three years on murder charges under a new law (introduced in 2012) which allows the authorities to hold those who "encourage or facilitate" self-immolations to be held criminally responsible for "intentional homicide". The law was introduced as part of a move to deter further protests. Since its introduction, family members of individuals that have carried out self-immolation protests, along with local communities, have been punished with arrests and restrictions on communication and travel. 

In December 2015, court orders reached Dolma Tso's home stating that she was in a critical condition and asking her family to sign papers authorising an operation. The concerned family members phoned to ask if they could visit Dolma Tso to see her health condition for themselves, but the request was denied. However, Dolma Tso made a five minute phone call to her family, telling them that the prison guards had been forcing her to accept the operation, which she had not consented to, and urged her family not to sign the papers. Dolma Tso suffers from dizzy spells, fainting, sleeplessness, body weakness and heart complications; causing great worry to her family.

Finally, on 4 December 2016, at around 9pm, Dolma Tso was released after serving three years in the womens unit of Mianyang Prison, Sichuan Province. Upon arriving home, she was welcomed by her family and over 200 local Tibetans.

Dolma Tso's family, waiting to greet her

Above: Family and friends of Dolma Tso waiting to greet her.

Video footage of her arrival shows hundreds of Tibetans from her community welcoming her with khatas, a ceremonial scarf placed around the recipients neck. She receives so many that she must continually remove them in order to make room for more.

Dolma Tso's release comes just two months after that of another political prisoner named Choezin, from Dzamthang County in Ngaba. He was also sentenced to three years for "murder" under the same law after his sister self-immolated in 2013.

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