China charges 3 in death of Buddhist monk

AP News
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Posted: Aug 26, 2011 9:15 AM
China charges 3 in death of Buddhist monk

Authorities in southwestern China will charge three Buddhist monks with murder over the death of a monk who set himself on fire in an alleged protest against Chinese government policies, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday.

Two of the monks, Tsering Tenzin and Tenchum, are accused of plotting, instigating, and assisting in the March 16 self-immolation of 16-year-old Rigzin Phuntsog.

A third, Drongdru, is accused of moving and hiding the injured monk, preventing him from receiving emergency treatment for 11 hours and eventually leading to his death, Xinhua said in a brief report Friday.

The two-day trial will be held on Monday and Tuesday, Xinhua said, citing a statement from the Maerkang County People's Court in Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province.

The monastery where the incident occurred, Ngaba Kirti in Sichuan province, is under tight guard by security forces.

The circumstances surrounding the monk's death remain murky, and in June, China rejected pressure from a U.N. human rights panel to provide information about more than 300 of Kirti's monks whose whereabouts it said are unknown since the monastery was raided in April.

The Foreign Ministry said only that monks were undergoing "legal education" _ a reference to hours-long compulsory political lectures on the basics of the Chinese constitution, criminal law and regulations on religious affairs.

Tibetan monks tend to be fiercely loyal to Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who is reviled by Beijing. As custodians of Tibet's Buddhist culture, they tend to be especially concerned about China's tight controls over monasteries that take time away from religious study and practice.