Police in northwest China’s Gansu province have detained 15 Tibetans in connection with self-immolation protests, accusing them of having incited and publicized the burnings, according to Tibetan sources and state media.
One group of eight was picked up in December in Luchu (in Chinese, Luqu) county, and the other seven were recently taken into custody in Tsoe (Hezuo) county, the sources said.
On Dec. 20, police “suddenly rushed” into a temple in Luchu (in Chinese, Luqu) county and searched the residence of a monk, Kalsang Samdrub, a Tibetan living in India named Trinley told RFA’s Mandarin service on Monday, citing contacts in the region.
“Two days later, Chinese authorities detained the 44-year-old monk. He was accused of having connections with ‘outside separatist elements,’” Trinley said.
Over the next three days, authorities also took into custody seven villagers, accusing them of sending details of the Nov. 29 self-immolation protest of a local Tibetan resident, 31-year-old Tsering Namgyal, to “outside hostile forces.”
“Following this, they freed a villager called Nyima, but confiscated his cell phone and personal belongings,” Trinley said, adding, “No one knows the whereabouts of the other seven, including the monk.”
The seven still being held were identified by local sources as Kalsang Samdrub, Lhamo Dorje, Dorje Dondrub, Kalsang Kyab, Kalsang Sonam, Kalsang Namdren, and Sonam Kyi, Trinley said.
“Among the seven, Kalsang Namdren is the brother-in-law of the dead self-immolator. The authorities allege that he had sent news of Tsering Namgyal’s self-immolation overseas.”
Tsering Namgyal, who is survived by two young daughters, set himself ablaze and died on Nov. 29 near local government offices in Luchu “in a protest against Chinese policy in Tibet and for Tibetan political freedom,” an exile Tibetan with contacts in the county told RFA at the time.
Ninety-six Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan regions since the wave of fiery protests began in February 2009.'
In a separate incident, Chinese police in Gansu took into custody seven Tibetans, accusing them of having incited 26-year-old protester Sangye Gyatso to burn himself to death in October, China’s state-controlled Xinhua news service reported on Thursday.
The self-immolation had been “masterminded by key members of the ‘Tibetan Youth Congress’ of the overseas Dalai clique,” Xinhua said.
In a statement last week, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama dismissed official Chinese accusations of complicity in self-immolation protests by Tibetans.
Charges that he has incited the fiery protests from afar are an “indication of desperation” on the part of China’s leaders and are promoted to the Chinese people by a policy of “censorship” and “distorted information,” he told India’s NDTV news channel in a talk show.
“They really find it difficult to explain [these events] to the outside world,” the Dalai Lama said.
“The time has come [for them to conduct] a thorough investigation” into the protests’ causes, he said.
Chinese authorities have beefed up security and clamped down on the Internet and other communications in areas where self-immolations have occurred, sources say.
Reported by Dan Zhen for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translated by Ping Chen. Written in English by Richard Finney and Ping Chen.