HONG KONG—Tibetan sources report escalating tensions in an eastern area of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and a Chinese police official there says five people have been detained and sentenced in a police crackdown.
“The Tibetans are very bold and aggressive these days. We had no choice but to order severe actions on the protestors,” a police official in Chamdo prefecture, in the eastern part of the TAR, said in a telephone interview.
“We had to crack down on the Tibetan protesters in Jomda [in Chinese, Jiangda] county", he said.
The official, who asked not to be named, also said five Tibetans had been sentenced this week to 2-1/2 years of hard labor in connection with the beating of a village leader.
“Many Tibetans were involved in violent acts of attacking local officials, but those five are of more severe cases,” the official said.
Tibetan sources from the Jomda area, both now living in Dharamsala, in northern India, described escalating tensions and clashes in the area. Both men cited contacts with Jomda residents.
Chinese authorities have sharply increased security and surveillance in Tibetan areas since an uprising last year that began in the regional capital, Lhasa, and quickly spread to neighboring provinces. Obtaining first-hand accounts from Tibetans has become markedly more difficult since then.
We had to crack down on the Tibetan protesters in Jomda county."
On June 13, according to a source named Samten, authorities trying to enforce a “patriotic education” campaign visited six Jomda monasteries. At one of them, Nyedo monastery, they detained three monks and an attendant and took them to a local detention center.
The detained monks were identified as Lore Tseten, 32, Dudjom, 23, and Choekyi Nyima, 32. Hundreds of Tibetans from nine villages gathered at the detention center and demanded their release, he said.
Several hundred security personnel then arrived and used tear-gas to disperse the crowd, Samten said, adding that an unknown number of people fainted and were taken to hospital.
“One Tibetan named Kalsang who was in the Chinese army and spoke Mandarin well tried to go toward the security forces and appeal to them to stop using poisonous gas. They beat him up,” he said.
Chinese officials and Tibetan leaders negotiated the monks’ release later in the day, he said.
Many monks are meanwhile vacating their monasteries to avoid patriotic education, in which they are required to criticize the Tibetan exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, and the exile government he leads in Dharamsala, Samten said.
Another Jomda native now living in Dharamsala, Dorje, said monasteries had been given until June 18 to comply with the patriotic education program, including condemning the Dalai Lama and exile government on camera, or face closure.
“If they do not comply, all the monasteries in the area will be closed and all the monks will be detained and taken away,” Dorje said.
On Jan. 5, Tibetan and Chinese sources reported an explosion at a government complex in Jomda that damaged buildings and cars but caused no casualties.
Much of Tibet has been closed off since a peaceful demonstration last year in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, erupted into a riot that left at least 22 dead, ignited protests in three neighboring provinces, and prompted Beijing to dramatically increase its troop presence.
The Tibetan government-in-exile in India says about 220 Tibetans died and nearly 7,000 were detained in the subsequent region-wide crackdown.
Original reporting by Lobsang Choephel and Dorjee Damdul for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.