Updated at 9:15 AM EST on 2012-02-29
A Tibetan bombed a newly completed government building in troubled Sichuan province that was used to gather intelligence on the local community, sources said Tuesday.
The man, identified as Tashi, aged 32, died in the explosion, succumbing to head injuries, in the incident in Rekpa village in Dege county on Saturday, the sources said.
"He died in the explosion that also damaged the building. The extent of damage on the government building is not clear," an Indian-based friend of Tashi told RFA.
The government building was newly constructed to allow station officials to watch over residents of Rekpa and Wapa villages, angering the residents, according to Ngawang Sangpo, a Tibetan with contacts in the area.
"The authorities went ahead with the construction, overriding the local resentment,” Ngawang Sangpo told the Tibet Times.
Sichuan has been the scene of self-immolations and protests against Chinese rule that have led to a security clampdown and the detention of hundreds of Tibetans.
Last month, Chinese police opened fire on Tibetan protesters in at least three counties in Sichuan and Qinghai provinces, wounding scores and killing at least six, according to right groups.
Twenty-three Tibetans have self-immolated to protest Chinese policies and rule in Tibetan regions since February 2009.
Chinese authorities in Sichuan have also detained a Tibetan businessman suspected of involvement in a protest earlier this month in a neighboring province, sources said this week.
The man, identified as Tamdin, 32, was taken into custody at the Chengdu airport in Sichuan on Feb. 22 after taking a flight from Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, a U.S.-based source said, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing contacts in the region.
Tamdin, who was described as having “strong standing” in Qinghai’s Nangchen county, had taken part in a large but peaceful Feb. 8 protest in Nangchen by Tibetans challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas, the source said.
“Because no one was arrested on the day of the protest, the police are after many young Tibetans from Nangchen now,” he said, adding that “Chengdu police are now working with Xining police” to arrest Tibetans residing in both cities.
According to Tamdin’s family, his present whereabouts are unknown, the source said.
In the Feb. 8 protest in Nangchen, as many as 1,000 people—mostly laypersons in traditional dress—flocked to the county stadium under close watch by security forces.
The protesters chanted prayers and shouted slogans calling for freedom for Tibet and for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a source inside Tibet said.
“When armed soldiers and policemen closed in, the Tibetans shouted ‘Kyi Hi Hi,’ a Tibetan battle cry of defiance,” the source said.
“The soldiers and policemen then retreated but watched from a distance. There was no clash between them, but the protesters remained in the stadium.”
Meanwhile, Dawa Dorje, a popular advocate of Tibet’s traditional culture and language who was believed detained after going missing in early February “will be released,” a police official in Tibet has told the man’s family, according to sources.
Dorje, age 27 or 28, was picked up by police at Gonggar airport in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, a source inside Tibet said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Also speaking on condition of anonymity, a South India-based friend said Dorje had taken a flight to Lhasa from Sichuan’s capital Chengdu after organizing a conference there promoting Tibetan culture.
“He called for a conference of Tibetan singers and other Tibetans in Chengdu on Feb. 1 and asked them to write and sing songs with themes that would promote the Tibetan language, race, and culture,” he said.
Police in Dorje’s native Driru county in the Tibet Autonomous Region ’s (TAR’s) Nagchu prefecture have now told his family members that Dorje will be released, but have not provided details, the friend said.
“Many days have passed since Dawa Dorje’s detention. His family still doesn’t know where he is, or on what charges he is being held,” he said.
Also in Driru, Chinese authorities threatened this week to jail Tibetan monks and nuns who have walked away from their monasteries to protest Chinese interference in monastic affairs, an India-based Tibetan source said, adding, “The monks replied that they will return to their monasteries only after the Chinese officials leave.”
“Now, the general situation in the monasteries in Driru is very bad,” he said.
“There are no monks there to carry out religious prayers or rituals for the deceased, and large numbers of Chinese officials are now present in the monasteries, which forced the monks to all leave.”
“Some Tibetan families displayed dead bodies of their loved ones before the local government to protest over the failure to find lamas to conduct the [funeral] prayer service," said Kalsang Gyaltsen, a member of Tibet’s exile parliament in Dharamsala.
"The government doesn’t respect Tibetan customs at all,” he said.
The Chinese authorities have sent cadres as “working groups” to monasteries in Nagchu prefecture in a bid to force monks to receive so-called "patriotic education," Tibetan exiles in India said.
“Since last November, the government of the TAR has sent about 20,000 cadres to various villages and monasteries to carry out the patriotic education. As a result, many monasteries have now been closed,” said Jampal Monlam, deputy director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy based in Dharamsala.
On Tuesday, the official Tibetan Daily reported that Pema Trinlay, the head of the ruling Chinese Communist Party of the TAR, requested all key TAR officials to be available round the clock in order to maintain stability during March, the anniversary of the massive Tibetan crackdown in 2008.
Early this month, the Indian-based source said, hundreds of monks had staged protests calling for independence and the return of the Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
At first, he said, 10 monks who had formerly belonged to Driru’s Pekar monastery gathered on a hilltop on Feb. 8 to conduct prayers for a local resident who had died.
“On their way home, they stopped at the township office and raised slogans calling for Tibetan independence and for the return of the Dalai Lama and religious freedom for the monasteries and the people.”
Between 700-800 local Tibetans then joined the protest, he said.
“They marched together shouting slogans for almost an hour and a half before dispersing peacefully and returning to their homes. No detentions were reported at that time.”
The next day, five truckloads of Chinese security forces arrived in Driru and warned local residents they would be fired on if they failed to “control themselves,” he said.
Reported by Dorjee Damdul and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service and Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin service. Translations by Karma Dorjee, Dorjee Damdul, Rigdhen Dolma and Ping Chen. Written in English by Richard Finney and Parameswaran Ponnudurai.