Chinese police in Sichuan province’s Ngaba county detained a young Tibetan monk on Monday after he called out in public for Tibetan freedom in the second such protest in the area during the last two weeks, sources said.
Lobsang Kelsang, 19, launched his solo protest in the afternoon of Sept. 7 on a central street in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county’s main town and was quickly overpowered by police stationed nearby, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“He was carrying a photo of [exiled spiritual leader] His Holiness the Dalai Lama over his head and was calling out for Tibetan freedom,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“The local Tibetans shouted and cried out in support of the protest as he was being taken away,” he said.
In a short video clip of Kelsang’s protest obtained by RFA, a Tibetan woman can be heard shouting “Look at this! The Chinese are not letting us live in peace!” as the young protester is dragged away.
A Tibetan layman who attempted to interfere with the arrest was also detained, and police at one point fired gunshots into the air to disperse a forming crowd, a local source said.
Cousin also jailed
Separately, a Tibetan monk living in India confirmed Kelsang’s detention, citing contacts in the Ngaba area.
“Lobsang Kelsang called out for Tibetan freedom and for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and was taken away by police stationed in the town,” Kanyak Tsering, a monk at the Dharamsala-based exile branch of Tibet’s Kirti monastery, said.
“He was enrolled in Kirti monastery in Tibet at a young age, and was studying Buddhist dialectics there in 2014,” Tsering said.
Kelsang’s cousin and classmate Lobsang Tenpa staged a similar protest last year in Ngaba and is now serving a two-year sentence in prison, Tsering added.
Reached for comment, an officer on duty at a police station in Ngaba said, “This is not something you need to hear about,” before hanging up the phone.
Kelsang’s solo protest follows by two weeks a similar protest by a young Tibetan woman, Dorje Dolma, who called out for Tibetan freedom on a street in Ngaba on Aug. 20.
Like Kelsang and other recent protesters a native of the county’s Meruma township, Dolma had “shouted in protest for some time before a group of police arrived at the site and took her away,” a Tibetan who witnessed the incident told RFA in an earlier report.
Earlier in August, Woekar Kyi, a Meruma resident and mother of a four-year-old son, was detained after staging a solitary protest.
And in December, two other Meruma residents—one a student and the other a monk—were also taken into custody, apparently on suspicion of involvement in activities opposing Beijing's rule in Tibetan areas.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 143 Tibetans to date setting themselves on fire to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Noting that China on Sept. 8 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region, consolidating its rule over Tibet, the London-based Free Tibet advocacy group said on Tuesday that Tibetans “reject” China’s rule.
Official assertions of social progress in the formerly self-governing Himalayan region only mask a reality of “prisons and protests,” the rights group said.
“If Tibet’s people have a good news story to tell, why doesn’t Beijing let them freely tell it or give the world’s media the opportunity to freely see it?” Free Tibet asked.
Reported by Lhuboom for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.