China jails Tibetan monk for "inciting masses"

Reuters, Feb 4, 2008

BEIJING, China -- The abbot of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in southwest China has been jailed for three years on charges of endangering national security by inciting the masses, a group monitoring human rights in the Himalayan region said.

Khenpo Jinpa, 37, abbot of Chogtsang Talung Monastery in Sichuan province, was sentenced last July, but the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy only reported his imprisonment in a statement seen on Monday.

The centre did not give a reason for the delay, but the authorities are keen to keep politically sensitive Tibetan issues under wraps. The court could not be reached for comment.

Police detained Khenpo Jinpa in August 2006 on suspicion of distributing leaflets calling for Tibet's independence and the Dalai Lama's long life at a festival the previous year, the centre said in a statement faxed to Reuters.

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, has lived in exile in India since 1959 when he fled his predominantly Buddhist homeland after an abortive uprising against Communist rule.

Khenpo Jinpa was born to a nomadic family and ordained as a monk at at a young age. In 1992 he enrolled at the Serthar Buddhist Institute.

In 2001, hundreds of monks' huts at the institute were destroyed by paramilitary police and a ceiling of 1,000 monks was imposed against the total enrolment of about 10,000.