A 40-year-old Tibetan arrested earlier this month for allegedly inciting self-immolations in China and said he did so because he was instigated by two India-based monks to do so and promised an Apple mobile phone, state media said on Friday.
Lorang Konchok a monk at the Kirti Monastery in Aba County of the Sichuan province was picked up in the first week of December for goading eight Tibetans to set themselves on fire, three of whom died, since 2009, state-run Xinhua had reported, adding that he had acted on the instructions of Tibetan religious leader Dalai Lama and his followers.
In an interview published in China Daily on Friday, authorities seemed to further buttress the claim as Lorang – awaiting trial at an unnamed prison - told the newspaper that on four occasions, he had sent information about self-immolations to his contacts in India.
“Samdam and Dorah, monks from India, told me to collect the information (about the cases) and then report to them. I did it because they asked me to,” Lorang told the China Daily newspaper.
It is rare in China for under-trials to give interviews to newspapers; in most high-profile cases, suspects are kept in anonymous jails and courts are known to pass swift judgments.
Lorang, however, seemed to have opened up to the state-run newspaper; the interview was published under the headline: “Interview: Prime Suspect.”
Lorang said he got the idea about encouraging self-immolations after a Tibetan, Tapey, committed the act in 2009.
“After Tapey killed himself in 2009, Samdam and Dorah called and said they needed information about self-immolators, so they could publicise the acts overseas. It was then that I got the idea of helping them,” Lorang said.
When asked what the two monks from India told him, Lorang said: “Samdam and Dorah said it would be for causes dear to Tibetans and the Dalai Lama.”
Asked why didn’t self-immolate himself, Lorang said: “I didn’t do it because I was afraid... Afraid of death and scared of burning.”
“Dorah said he would send me an Apple mobile phone that could send texts in Tibetan, so it would be easier for us to communicate,” the arrested monk said when asked about the benefits promised to him.
The interview was part of large Friday spread in the newspaper that essentially said many Tibetans were angry with the spurt in cases of self-immolations.
More than 90 Tibetans have attempted to do so since 2009 protesting Chinese rule, demanding more freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama; most have succumbed to their injuries.