Tibet Sees Scattered Protests, Arrests

Two months after a massive crackdown ended the worst anti-Chinese unrest in Tibet in nearly 50 years, residents still report small, sporadic protests by monks, nuns, and lay people—and swift arrests.
2008-05-15 - KATHMANDU
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Two months after a massive crackdown ended the worst anti-Chinese unrest in Tibet in nearly 50 years, Tibetan residents report small and scattered shows of public defiance—along with swift detention by the authorities.

“Many separatists have been detained,” a spokesman for the Public Security Bureau  in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi], Sichuan province, said May 15, when asked to comment on a new spate of detentions. “They were detained according to the laws of China. You can tell anyone you want.”

Earlier this week, three Tibetan Buddhist monks staged a brief public protest in Kardze town, which is heavily Tibetan, before police took them into custody, witnesses said, amid reports of further detentions in Tibetan areas.

The three monks from Kardze monastery gathered May 13 at around 9:30-10 a.m., handing out leaflets and shouting for the long life of Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, witnesses said.

“There are hundreds of soldiers dressed as ordinary laborers in the town,” one source said. “The monks protested briefly and then were detained.”

The monks were identified as Lobsang Tenpa, 20; Palden Tsondru, or Tsultrim, 19; and Lobsang Choeden, 19. Five Tibetans from Palden Tsultrim's Kardze hometown of Seshutin Yaratin are now detained, one source said.

“They distributed leaflets and protested for a while in the presence of Chinese security forces in Kardze town,” another source said. “Then they were taken away by police, but no violent beating was reported. Since there was a huge presence of armed security forces in the city, the local Tibetan population couldn’t back them up.”

Stress has worn down Kardze Tibetan residents, Tibetan sources say, with sporadic protests erupting since April 23 despite a massive presence by the authorities.

Also in Kardze, authorities this week detained 14 nuns for protesting despite a massive security presence and handed jail terms to seven others for joining widespread demonstrations in March.

The 14 nuns from nunneries in Kardze demonstrated May 11-12 in a central area of Kardze, near the local television station, witnesses said.

They were protesting the detention of two nuns from Drakar nunnery. Bumo Lhaga, 32, and Sonam Dekyi, 30, were detained April 23 for calling for the Dalai Lama’s return. 

Sources identified the 14 nuns as Sey Lhamo, 36; Thubten Drolma, 40; Ani Taga, 36; Lhawang Chokyi, 41; Yangkyi, 28; Gyayul Seyang; Gyayul Thinley; Gyayul Shachotso Bodze; Tamdin Tsekyi; Seshuktin Tamdin Tsekyi; Seshuktin Dekyi, 29; Bendetsang Yangchen; and two others whose names weren’t immediately available.

“They protested in support of those two nuns who protested April 23 and were detained. These nuns shouted for the independence of Tibet, and for the long life and return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” one source said.  

“They protested right at the center of Kardze town, close to the local TV station.” 

Sources said all 14 nuns are believed to be held at Kardze prison.

Retirees detained 

In the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) capital, Lhasa, Tibetan sources said police had detained a retired couple for allegedly passing on information about the condition of Tibetan prisoners.

The husband was identified as Shelok, 63 and retired from the Chinese border patrol. The wife, Yangdzom, works in retirement as a doctor at the Lhasa People’s Hospital, one source said. Yangdzom’s age wasn’t immediately available.

“On May 3, Shelok was taken away from his residence between midnight and 1 a.m.,” the source said.

“He was accused of passing information about the death and detention of Tibetan protestors [and about] the conditions of prison to his sources outside Tibet. He was also accused of helping Tibetan protestors in the hospital. He was taken to Gutsa prison.” 

Yangdzom was detained three days after her husband, the sources said “She was accused of secretly taking painkillers and other medications from the hospital to treat Tibetans injured in the protests. Where she was taken isn’t known.”

The couple’s two children, both at university in China, returned home to Lhasa—now slowly returning to life with a trickle of tourists, restored phone service, and re-opened monasteries—to find the family home had been looted, the source said.

Crackdown after protests  

Chinese authorities have made numerous arrests and launched a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at Tibetans in the wake of rioting that began in Lhasa in mid-March and then spread to other Tibetan areas.

Beijing says 22 people were killed in the rioting. Tibetan sources say scores of people were killed when Chinese paramilitary and police opened fire on crowds of demonstrators. 

Chinese authorities have blamed the Dalai Lama for instigating the protests and fomenting a Tibetan independence movement. The Dalai Lama rejects the accusation, saying he wants only autonomy and human rights for Tibetans.

TAR monks detained

The exile Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) meanwhile reported the arrest of 16 monks May 12-13 and two lay people May 14 in Markham [in Chinese, Mangkang] county,  Chamdo prefecture in the TAR. 

The monks, from Woeser and Khenpa Lungpa monasteries, were said to have argued with members of a Chinese work team when they were asked to sign criticisms of the Dalai Lama.

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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