Chinese police have detained a Tibetan monk who wrote a book on self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule and have launched a crackdown on his monastery in Qinghai province, according to sources in the region and in exile.
Tritsan, 26, was taken into custody on March 11 near Tongkyab monastery in Gade (in Chinese, Gande) county but his whereabouts are unknown, Swiss-based Tibetan exile Rinchen Sangpo told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.
“Tritsan, a monk at Tongkyab monastery, was studying at nearby Lung-Ngon monastery and was suddenly detained while he was visiting his elderly mother, who lives near Tongkyab,” Sangpo, a former political prisoner in Tibet, said, citing sources in the region.
“People suspect that the book, Breath of Truth, which described self-immolation protests and which he wrote and published, was the main reason for his detention,” Sangpo added.
Separately, the Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) confirmed Tritsan’s detention, adding that his book was released and distributed at Tongkyab monastery on March 8.
The book contains essays on self-immolation protests by Tibetans and features a biography of a senior monk of Tongkyab monastery, Lama Soepa, who set himself ablaze and died on Jan. 8, 2012.
So far, 109 Tibetans have burned themselves in protests challenging Chinese rule and calling for the return of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader.
Tongkyab monastery has also been placed under a security lockdown, with about 100 Chinese officials and security personnel now living in tents on the monastery grounds, following ceremonies held by monks on March 14 to pray for Tibetan self-immolators, according to Tibetan exile media.
“A meeting was ordered at the monastery, and the presiding Chinese officials demanded that all monks who had helped or supported Tritsan’s work should turn themselves in,” the online Tibetan Review said in a March 20 report.
“The monks in Tongkyab monastery are being subjected to constant surveillance and re-education,” Sangpo said.
“An excerpt from a China Central Television documentary on the sentencing of Tibetans for ‘inciting’ self-immolations is being shown round-the-clock on a big screen in the junction of a road leading to the monastery,” he said.
On March 10, the anniversary of a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule, local Tibetans offered butter lamps and prayers in front of a large rock cairn near the monastery, Sangpo added.
“Local authorities are investigating the ceremony’s purpose and are trying to identify those who took part.”
Tritsan’s stepfather, a Han Chinese who has taken a Tibetan name and adopted Tibetan culture, has also been detained, Sangpo said.
The present condition and whereabouts of both men are still unknown, Sangpo said.
Flag torn down
Meanwhile, three Tibetan monks seized by police during a protest on March 10 in Sichuan province have now been accused of tearing down a Chinese flag at a Tibetan school three days before, an India-based monk named Yonten told RFA, citing contacts in the region.
The monks—Lobsang Samten, Sonam Namgyal, and Thubten Geleg from the Mang-Ge monastery—were taken into custody just before noon in the Sershul (in Chinese, Shiqu) county center as they shouted slogans calling for freedom and democracy in Tibet, sources said.
Chinese authorities are now blaming the three monks for the destruction of a Chinese flag at a school established by monks from Mang-Ge, Yonten said.
“On March 6, Chinese officials arrived at the school and told local Tibetans that they were going to improve the school building,” Yonten said. “They improved nothing at the school, but put a Chinese flag up on the building’s roof.”
Sometime during the night of March 7, the flag was ripped down, and authorities are now blaming the three detained monks for the flag’s destruction, Yonten said.
Reported by Chakmo Tso and Pema Ngodup for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee and Tseten Namgyal. Written in English by Richard Finney.