BEIJING (AP) — Two Tibetan men were put on trial Saturday for intentional homicide for allegedly inciting self-immolations in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xinhua said Lorang Konchok, 40, and his nephew Lorang Tsering, 31, are accused of encouraging eight people to self-immolate and that three of them — Tsedrup, Tsenam and Jokba — died from burns last year in Sichuan’s Aba prefecture.
Nearly 100 Tibetan monks, nuns and lay people have set themselves on fire since 2009, calling for Beijing to allow greater religious freedom and the return from exile of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Beijing blames the Dalai Lama for inciting the self-immolations.
For months, the Chinese authorities responded to the self-burning acts by sending in security forces to seal off areas and prevent information from getting out, but those efforts have not stopped or slowed the protests.
Now, Beijing has started to criminalize the suicides and arrest protesters’ friends and sympathizers.
Earlier this week, Xinhua reported that police in Qinghai province arrested a Tibetan monk who was attempting to self-immolate last November and another Tibetan man who allegedly encouraged the monk to carry out the act. The men were arrested on charges of jeopardizing public safety and intentional homicide respectively.
In Sichuan’s Aba prefecture, Xinhua said documents from an Aba prefecture court show the Lorangs had close contact with an overseas group championing Tibet independence and belonging to the “Dalai clique.”
Citing prosecutors, Xinhua said Lorang Konchok recorded Jokba’s information, took his photos and promised to spread his self-immolation deed overseas and to convey his last words to his family the day before Jokba set himself on fire.
Xinhua cited court documents that five other people goaded by the Lorangs to set themselves on fire but did not do so either because they gave up or because police intervened.