Tibetan Self-Immolation Protest Survivor Released

Lobsang Konchok
Lobsang Konchok

4th April 2017

Lobsang Konchok, who self-immolated in 2011, has been released after over 5 years in prison

 

A monk who carried out and survived a self-immolation protest in 2011 has been released after over five years in prison. Lobsang Konchok, from Kirti Monastery in Ngaba County, eastern Tibet, was released on 28 March 2017. 

Lobsang Konchok carried out a self-immolation protest in September 2011 against Chinese repression in Tibet. He did so along with another young monk, Lobsang Kalsang. Both were aged between 18 and 19 at this time. Lobsang Kalsang is reported to have since died.

 

Calling for Freedom

Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok made their protest on 26 September 2011, waving the Tibetan flag and calling out “We want religious freedom” and “long live the Dalai Lama” before setting themselves on fire. They were subsequently taken to a hospital in Ngaba County. During the time he was in prison, Lobsang Konchok was insulted, humiliated and tortured.

There have been over 140 confirmed cases of Tibetans having self-immolated in Tibet since February 2009, with 118 known to have died as a result of their protest. The latest self-immolation was by Pema Gyaltsen in Kardze last month. Pema Gyaltsen was seized by police and taken away from the scene of his protest alive. His current condition and whereabouts are unknown. The area around the scene of his protest was locked down by police. Several locals were seized and local communications were cut.

 

Secret  Release

In the night of 28 March, Lobsang Konchok was released from Deyang Prison and secretly taken to a remote nomadic area by police. His family members were not informed about the date of release, and since his arrival time was not known local Tibetans were not able to give him a welcome reception.

Lobsang Konchok’s prison term had been completed at the end of February but his release was delayed; local people believe this delay might have been to avoid the sensitive period around the Tibetan Uprising Anniversary on 10 March.  

On 29 March, a few monks who are friends of Lobsang Konchok were able to visit him and learned that his right leg had been amputated in the course of treatment for burns sustained from the flames of the protest. Past eye-witness reports have also suggested that he may have had both of his legs amputated as well as both of his arms.

Currently Lobsang Konchok is under tight surveillance; despite his already extremely limited physical mobility, he is not allowed to go out, even to his monastery.