Four Monks Held Over Protest

The Tibetan monks are detained in connection with a self-immolation nearly two weeks ago.
2012-10-17
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Monks and onlookers stand around the burned body of Tamdin Dorjee at the Tsoe monastery, Kanlho prefecture, Oct. 13, 2012.
Monks and onlookers stand around the burned body of Tamdin Dorjee at the Tsoe monastery, Kanlho prefecture, Oct. 13, 2012.
Photo courtesy of a Tsoe resident

Chinese authorities have detained four Tibetan monks from a monastery in Gansu province's Tsoe (in Chinese, Hezuo) county, the scene of two self-immolation deaths within a week in protest against Chinese rule, according to sources.

Three of the monks were picked up on Wednesday from Dokar monastery, which had come under scrutiny after a 27-year-old father of two, Sangay Gyatso, burned himself to death at the institution's compound on Oct. 6.

"Today, suddenly a huge contingent of armed police arrived at the monastery and detained Jigme Gyatso, the cashier, Kalsang Gyatso, the accountant, and another monk called Kunchok Gyatso," a source inside Tibet told RFA's Tibetan service. "They were taken away from their rooms in the monastery."

The fourth monk, Tashi Gyatso was detained a few days ago, the source said.

The four "were detained for their involvement in taking care of the body of Sangay Gyatso, and taking photos of the body," according to the source.

"After the death of Sangay Gyatso, a huge contingent of Chinese armed police was deployed in the area and imposed strict surveillance on the monastery. Police came to the monastery and interrogated each and every monk," the source said.

Another source inside Tibet said Chinese officials had approached Sangay Gyatso's family and offered one million yuan (U.S. $159,885) "if they confess and sign a document stating that he died over a family dispute and not in protest against Chinese rule."

The claim could not be independently verified.

Sangay Gyatso's death was followed by another deadly burning protest in the same county on Saturday.

Tamdin Dorjee, 54, the grandfather of a revered Tibetan Buddhist figure, self-immolated on the grounds of the Tsoe monastery in Tsoe.

Tamdin Dorjee, who left behind a wife and three grown children, was the grandfather of the 7th Gungthang Rinpoche, one of the most important religious leaders in the region.

He was cremated on Wednesday.

"A large number of police were deployed on the surrounding hills and watched the cremation rituals with powerful binoculars," one source said.

Fifty-five Tibetans have self-immolated to protest Chinese rule and call for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader who is living in exile in India, despite appeals by Tibetan groups in exile to end the burning protests.

Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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