Chinese police rounded up and brutally beat a group of Tibetans following a protest at the start of the Lunar New Year this month, leaving two with broken bones and taking at least six into custody, sources said this week.
The Feb. 10 protest in the Meyul township of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Dzogang (in Chinese, Zuogong) county came after authorities insisted that area residents fly the Chinese national flag from the roofs of their homes, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“But the Tibetans refused to fly the flags from their roofs,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Instead, they tore them down and stamped on them,” he said.
Chinese county officials also distributed solar panels as gifts, but Tibetan residents smashed them in a gesture of defiance, RFA’s source said.
On Feb. 10, the eve of the Tibetan New Year, local Tibetans pasted posters on the walls of Chinese government offices calling for religious freedom and independence for Tibet and staged a public protest, he said.
A large contingent of Chinese security personnel arrived in the area the next day to take the protesters into custody, an exile Tibetan news outlet said, confirming the incident.
“Chinese authorities in Dzogang detained six Tibetans and brutally beat them, leaving two with broken bones, after the protest erupted on Feb.10,” the online Tibet Express reported this week.
“One of those detained sustained two broken ribs, while another’s arm was broken in the ruthless beating,” the Tibet Express said.
More may be held
The names of the detained protesters have not been learned, a local source said, adding that Chinese security forces may be detaining even more Tibetans than the six reported held.
“The Chinese government has deployed a large number of security forces in the area and has blocked all traffic going into Meyul town,” he said.
“Residents wanting to leave have been blocked by checkpoints set up at a bridge leading to the area.”
Chinese officials have also recently been visiting nearby Tibetan towns and villages and taking down the names and locations of area residents, he added.
Calls seeking comment from county and prefecture police rang unanswered Thursday.
Separately, RFA reported this week that Chinese security forces detained six monks at a restive monastery in Markham (in Chinese, Mangkang) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region also on Feb. 10.
The detentions followed protests calling for Tibetan independence and the return of Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, according to sources.
Prayers for self-immolators
Tibetans in China chose to forgo traditional Losar new year festivities this year, opting instead to mourn and pray for compatriots who burned themselves to death during the year to challenge Chinese rule, sources said.
Prayers were held in Tibet and across Tibetan-populated areas in Chinese provinces as Tibetans marked the New Year.
Some 104 Tibetans have self-immolated so far in protest against Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India.
Beijing has defended its rule of Tibet and says the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan leaders in exile have orchestrated the self-immolations from their base in India.
But Tibetan exile leaders deny involvement in the burnings and have called on Tibetans in Tibetan-populated regions of China to exercise restraint.
Rights groups have condemned Chinese authorities for criminalizing the fiery protests and for cracking down on Tibetans believed to have provided encouragement and support.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.