Chinese police in a restive county in Tibet have taken into custody three men for putting up posters calling for freedom, following a wave of detentions in the area after villagers refused orders to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, sources said.
Sonam Dondrub, 19, Tsering Tashi, 18, and Choksar, whose age is unknown, were taken into custody on Oct. 12 in Driru (in Chinese, Biru) county in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, a local resident told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
“They had put up posters in the area calling for Tibetan freedom,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Relatives were not allowed to see the men, all residents of Driru county’s Shakchu township, after they were taken into custody, the source said.
More than 80 armed police are now closely watching the 170 families who live in Shakchu’s villages, the source said, adding, “If anyone has to travel outside, their government ID and public-benefits access cards are thoroughly checked.”
Forced loyalty displays
Driru has been at the center of a campaign by Tibetans resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state.
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.
Last week, 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.
Villagers had submitted a written appeal for the release of Tsultrim Gyaltsen and his friend Yugyal after being told that they would not be allowed to assemble in groups of more than five, a Tibetan living in India had told RFA, citing local sources.
“However, no response was given to their request,” he said.
Three women who then pressed their petition were taken into custody along with a group of young Tibetans who had gathered near their township office.
Meanwhile, on Monday, police in Nagchu’s Sog (Suo) county detained a Tibetan accused of contacting “outside sources” over some protests, a Tibetan living in exile told RFA, citing local sources.
The reason for the detention of Thubten Gyaltsen, age about 27, “is still unclear, but people suspect he may be accused of having contacted outside sources” with information on protests in the area, the Tibetan said.
Family members have received no word so far on Gyaltsen’s condition or place of detention, he added.
In another development, in Sichuan’s Kardze (Ganzi) county, over 200 nuns from different nunneries in the area gathered Thursday “to conduct prayers for those who have self-immolated in protests for the Tibetan cause and for the return of [exiled spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama,” a local source told RFA.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 123 Tibetans in China have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by Lobsang Sherab and Norbu Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.