Cookie consent

We use cookies to improve your experience on this website. By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies. Tell me more | Cookie preferences

Heavy sentences in China for 2 Tibetans over self-immolations

Tibetan Buddhist monks and members of Tibetan Youth congress hold lit candles during a protest in Siliguri, November 28, 2012.

Story highlights

  • The court says the two Tibetans encouraged others to self-immolate
  • It sentences one of them to death, with a two-year reprieve
  • China says the verdict shows the Dalai Lama's role in the Tibetan unrest
  • The Dalai Lama has long denied assertions he's seeking Tibetan independence

A court in southwestern China has given heavy sentences to two ethnic Tibetans convicted of murder for "inciting" people to set themselves of fire, state media reported Thursday.

Self-immolation has become a dramatic and harrowing form of protest in recent years for ethnic Tibetans unhappy with Chinese rule.

Opinion: Tibetans reject Chinese rule with one voice

Beijing has taken a tough line on the protesters and their associates, accusing the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, of fomenting unrest inside Chinese borders.

The court in Sichuan province on Thursday sentenced Lorang Konchok, a 40-year-old monk, to death with a two-year reprieve and stripped him of his political rights for life, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

    Just Watched

    Dalai Lama: China belongs to the people

Dalai Lama: China belongs to the people 03:07

    Just Watched

    Tibetan self-immolations on the rise

Tibetan self-immolations on the rise 02:53

    Just Watched

    Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations

Dalai Lama silent on self-immolations 01:05

    Just Watched

    Activist case exposes China crackdown

Activist case exposes China crackdown 02:24

It sentenced his nephew, Lorang Tsering, 31, to 10 years in prison, stripping him of his political rights for three years, the agency said.

    The court -- in the prefecture of Aba, a Tibetan autonomous area in Sichuan -- convicted the two men of encouraging eight people to self-immolate, three of whom died as a result, Xinhua reported.

    How many more Tibetans will sacrifice themselves?

    The other five people didn't go through with the act, either because they chose to abandon the plan or because police intervened, the court found, according to Xinhua.

    Accusations against the Dalai Lama

    Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Chinese authorities hoped that with the verdict Thursday, "the international community will be able to clearly see the evil, malicious methods of the Dalai clique in the self-immolations and condemn their crimes."

    By December 2012, 95 Tibetans had set themselves on fire, with 28 self-immolations in November alone when China's political elite ushered in its next generation of leaders during its Communist Party Congress. At least 81 of the 95 self-immolators died, according to the International Tibet Network, a coalition of some 150 pro-Tibet groups.

    Independently verifying the reported self-immolations is difficult because of Chinese restrictions on reporting from the restive areas, and the reluctance of local officials to comment on the accounts provided by foreign-based Tibetan advocacy groups.

    Beijing rejects accusations of oppression, saying that under its rule, living standards have greatly improved for the Tibetan people. It makes centuries-old historical claims on the region.

    The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising, has long denied China's assertion that he's seeking Tibetan independence. He says he wants only an autonomy that would offer protection for their traditional Buddhist culture.

        CNN Recommends

      • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

        As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
      • Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
      • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

        Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
      • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

        It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.