Police in China’s southwestern Sichuan province on Wednesday beat and detained a Tibetan monk who shouted slogans calling for independence for Tibet, in the latest incident this year of lone Tibetan protesters braving harsh treatment and long prison terms to challenge Chinese rule.
Konchog Yarphel, 22 and a monk at Talung monastery in Serthar county in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, began his protest at 1:00 p.m. on Aug. 1, a Tibetan resident of the area said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Aug. 1 is nationally observed in China as “Army Day,” the source noted.
“[Konchog Yarphel] shouted slogans and distributed leaflets, signed in his own name, calling for freedom and independence for Tibet and for the return to Tibet of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama,” the source said.
Yarphel, a native of Serthar’s Nyitoe Yultso community, began his protest in a public park and fought back when security forces arrived to detain him, the source said.
In recent months, several Tibetans have staged individual protests against Chinese rule in Tibetan-populated areas.
In late July, police in Tibet's Chamdo prefecture detained a young Tibetan named Ngawang who carried the banned Tibetan national flag and shouted slogans before being taken into custody.
In addition, 44 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze so far in a self-immolation campaign to protest Beijing's rule since the current wave of burnings began in February 2009.
In Wednesday's protest, Konchog Yarphel “carried a stick with a prayer flag on it, and was taken away in a police car and severely beaten when he resisted arrest,” the source said.
“Lots of people witnessed the incident, but nobody knows now where he is being held,” he said.
Before he was detained, Yarphel called also for the release of the Panchen Lama, a Tibetan religious figure believed to be held by China, the source said.
The Panchen Lama, the eleventh in his line and Tibet’s second most-senior religious figure, was named at the age of six in 1995 by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of his predecessor, but quickly disappeared into Chinese custody together with his family.
Another boy, Gyaltsen (in Chinese, Gyaincain) Norbu, was selected by Chinese authorities to take his place.
His authenticity is disputed by many Tibetans, who refer to him as China’s “fake” Panchen.
Chinese officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region last week ordered Tibetans living near the Panchen Lama’s home monastery of Tashilhunpo to turn out in large numbers to greet Gyaltsen Norbu on his arrival on July 29, a Tibetan source said on Wednesday, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The Tibetans were compelled to attend under threat of prosecution, but many showed no interest and did not even see Panchen Gyaltsen Norbu’s arrival at the monastery,” he said.
Gyaltsen Norbu was scheduled to visit another monastery, Phuntsog Ling, on Wednesday, the source said.
“The authorities have demanded that at least 300 Tibetans living in the vicinity attend,” he said.
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul and Tseten Namgyal. Written in English by Richard Finney.