WASHINGTON, March 11, 2003--Chinese authorities in parts of Tibet are detaining and questioning people gathering in groups suspected of discussing the execution of one Tibetan and a death sentence handed down to a senior Tibetan monk in connection with a series of bombings, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Sources who spoke to RFA's Tibetan service on condition of anonymity also said two people were taken into custody in Sichuan Province, China, around Feb. 12. The police apparently believed the two people were relatives of the defendants, Lobsang Dhondup and Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche, and had leaked information about the case to people outside Tibet. Both Tibetans remain in custody, the sources said, but no further details were available.

Five or six others, all disciples of Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche, have been detained since January, according to other sources. Their whereabouts and legal status remain unknown. The sources also said Lobsang Dhondup had denied responsibility for the bombings as well as any "religious or political" connection with Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche.

Lobsang Dhondup, 28, was executed Jan. 26 in Sichuan Province for his alleged role in several bomb attacks in support of Tibetan independence in 2001 and 2002, in the Kandze (Ganzi) area of Sichuan, in which one person was killed. A provincial court also rejected an appeal by Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche, a Tibetan monk tried alongside Lobsang Dhondup, to overturn a suspended death sentence. Suspended sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment in China. Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche remains at a secret location, and both sentences have prompted an international outcry.

In the Nyakchuka area where Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche was based, tensions remain extremely high, sources in Tibet said. Police in the area continue to detain and question anyone seen gathering in groups.

Gelek Shakya, a disciple of Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche and resident of Drepung Monastery in South India, said his monastery was fielding numerous phone calls from distressed colleagues inside Tibet. �Many monks are calling in great despair about the tense situation and lack of freedom to express their concerns regarding Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche,� Gelek Shakya said.

Separately, RFA's Tibetan service has learned that some Tibetans are quietly protesting Lobsang Dhondup's execution and Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche's death sentence by declining to participate in traditional Tibetan New Year celebrations. The New Year, or Losar, is the most important holiday of the Tibetan calendar and lasts, inside Tibet, up to 10 days. This year it began March 3.

�Residents of the Nyakchuka area in Kandze (Ganzi) are in mourning. They didn�t participate in the annual horserace festival or celebrate the Tibetan New Year,� said one source, whom RFA�s Tibetan service cannot identify..

�Some monks from Tenzin Deleg Rimpoche�s monastery have been detained and interrogated when they tried to travel,� another source said, adding that all public discussion of the case remains banned. �People have been warned against displaying the Rimpoche�s photo and told not to talk about him--and told they will be arrested if they do. Everyone in the area is worried and concerned.�

Sichuan Province borders the Tibetan Autonomous Region and includes parts of traditionally Tibetan territory. Kandze forms part of the Kham Tibetan region, which falls under the administration of Sichuan Province.

RFA broadcasts news and information to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content. #####


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