Chinese police have obliterated a prayer written on the face of a cliff by Tibetan villagers calling for the long life of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, as security forces continue to clamp down on expressions of national identity in Tibetan-populated areas, according to sources in the region and in exile.
The prayer, which covered a large area of the rock face and was placed above carved and painted mantras, was inscribed on March 10 by residents of Khangmar village in the Dzatoe township of Yulshul prefecture’s Tridu (in Chinese, Chenduo) county, Lobsang Sangye, a Tibetan living in India, told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Monday.
The prayer was put up to commemorate the 54th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, a failed 1959 national rebellion against Chinese rule, Sangye said, citing information received from sources in the region, which has been marked by frequent anti-China protests.
“On learning about this, Chinese officials labeled the act a ‘political incident’ and sent security forces to erase the prayer,” Sangye said.
Details concerning when the Chinese action was taken, or on the possible detention of Tibetans held responsible for writing the prayer, were not immediately available.
“Before March 10, Chinese government officials at various levels had called local Tibetans to meetings and ordered them not to establish contacts with the ‘outside world,” Sangye said, adding that residents were further warned that international phone calls to and from the area were being monitored and recorded by authorities.
“Because of this, Tibetans in the area are living in great fear, and it is hard to get detailed information from local Tibetans on the phone,” he said.
A total of 109 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze so far in self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, who lives in India and is reviled as a dangerous “separatist” by Chinese authorities.
Chinese courts have jailed more than a dozen Tibetans, including monks, in connection with the fiery protests in recent weeks, with some handed jail terms of up to 15 years.
On Feb. 25, more than 1,500 people gathered at Dzatoe township’s Zilkar monastery to pray for self-immolation protesters who have “sacrificed their lives for Tibet,” sources said.
Reported and translated by Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.