Chinese authorities have detained 17 Tibetans in a county in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) where villagers have refused orders to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes and put up posters calling for freedom, according to sources.
Thirteen of those held in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture this month were released after being asked to pay fines for unknown offenses while the others, including two women, remain under detention with one of them reportedly beaten during police interrogations, the sources said.
No reasons were given when the 17 were picked up in separate groups in Gonshul village and Tenkhar village in Driru's Bomphen township, they said.
The two women still in detention were identified as Thiley Palmo, 32, and Sarkyi, 49.
"Palmo is being held at a detention center in the Driru county center," a Tibetan exile source told RFA's Tibetan Service.
"The relatives were not informed of the reasons for the detention but some other sources informed the relatives that she is being interrogated and beaten up in the detention center," the source said.
Sarkyi is being detained with two others who were in the same group picked up by the Chinese authorities, according to the source.
Center of resistance
Driru has been at the center of a campaign by Tibetans resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state.
Two weeks ago, Chinese police took three men into custody for putting up posters calling for freedom in Driru county’s Shakchu township following a wave of detentions in the area after villagers refused orders to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, sources said.
The campaign began in early October when villagers refused orders to fly Chinese flags from their homes, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown.
Shootings in Driru’s Sengthang and Trinring villages on Oct. 8 left four dead and at least 50 injured, sources said.
Two days earlier, security forces shot and wounded at least 60 Driru-area Tibetans demanding the release of a villager who had led protests against Chinese orders to hoist the flags.
Early this month, Chinese security forces detained 15 Tibetan villagers and banned mass petitioning in Driru after residents pushed for the release of a local writer and a friend detained on “separatism” charges, according to sources.
Reported by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.