DHARAMSHALA: The United Kingdom today urged the Chinese government to commute the death sentence of Dolma Kyab and called for free and fair trials in line with international standards.
Dolma Kyab, 32, was sentenced to death on 15 August by an intermediate people’s court in Ngaba (Ch: Aba) prefecture for allegedly killing his wife, Kunchok Wangmo. Kunchok Wangmo, aged 30s, was believed by Tibetans to have set herself on fire in protest against the repressive policies of the Chinese government more than five months back.
Speaking in the House Commons today, Mr Nic Dakin, Labour MP for Scunthrope, asked if the foreign secretary would raise concern over Dolma Kyab’s death sentence and take steps to ensure his human rights are respected by the Chinese government. The question was prompted by Tibet Society, a Tibet support group based in London, who raised concerns over Dolma Kyab’s case with Mr Dakin and supplied background information.
Foreign Secretary William Hague responded: “We urge the Chinese authorities to commute the death sentence and give him a reprieve. We firmly believe that all trials should be free and fair and in line with international standards. We remain extremely concerned about reports of self-immolations and call on all parties to use their influence to bring them to an end.”
Replying to a question by James Gray, Conservative MP for North Whiltshire, on whether making excessively large noises about China’s human rights abuses risk progress towards religious and political freedom, Mr Hague said the UK believes in universal human rights and never afraid to give our advocacy for those rights and that includes relations with China.
Mr Hague also said that foreign officials last raised their human rights concerns with the Chinese government on 23 July. We have also proposed dates for the next UK-China human rights dialogue and are waiting for the Chinese government to respond.
According to a report by Xinhua, the official press agency of the Chinese government, Dolma Kyab was given the death sentence for strangling his wife Kunchok Wangmo, after an argument over his drinking problem. He then burned his wife’s body early next morning to make it look like she committed self-immolation, the report said.
Dolma Kyab was first arrested by Chinese authorities in Dzoege county a day after Kunchok Wangmo’s self-immolation on 13 March 2013. He was detained after he refused to follow official orders to blame the death of his wife on domestic problems.
Various Tibetan rights rights groups have expressed concerns at the sentence. The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said, “The latest death penalty indicates that the authorities have hardened their stance on the issue of self-immolation, by making an example out of a few defiant relatives to scare and intimidate other family members and relatives of self-immolation protesters into toeing the official line.”
Several Tibetans were also arrested and sentenced to varying prison terms earlier by the Chinese government for allegedly abetting self-immolation.
Since 2009, a total of 120 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest against the Chinese government’s repressive policies in Tibetan areas. Most of them have called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans. The Central Tibetan Administration has repeatedly urged Tibetans to refrain from resorting to drastic actions such as self-immolation.