Chinese police have beaten to death a senior Tibetan monk less than a month after talking him into custody with two friends while they were vacationing in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa, according to sources.
Geshe Ngawang Jamyang, a popular religious teacher who had trained for many years at a monastery in India before returning to Tibet, was a leading instructor at Tarmoe monastery in Nagchu (in Chinese, Naqu) prefecture’s Driru (Biru) county before he was detained on Nov. 23, sources said.
Driru has been at the center of a campaign by Tibetans resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state.
“On Dec. 17, the body of Geshe Ngawang Jamyang was handed over to his family,” Ngawang Tharpa, a Tibetan living in exile in India, told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Thursday.
“He had been beaten to death,” Tharpa said, citing sources in the region.
“At that time, his family members were warned that they too would be brutally killed if they spread information about his death to outside contacts,” Tharpa said.
No information has been made available on the fate of another monk, Kalsang Choklang, who was detained at the same time as Jamyang, or of a still unidentified third monk who was taken into custody with them.
Separately, a Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan advocacy group confirmed Jamyang’s death, saying that police had “lost no time” in returning Jamyang’s body to his relatives after he was killed.
“It was clear that Ngawang Jamyang was beaten to death while in secret detention,” the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) said in a statement quoting a source with contacts in Driru.
“He was a healthy, robust man when he left his monastery to visit Lhasa,” TCHRD said.
Family members took Jamyang’s body to Lhasa’s Sera monastery for cremation, while funeral ceremonies and prayers are being conducted at his home in Driru county, TCHRD said.
Jamyang was born in Driru county’s Totho village in 1968, enrolled as a monk in Tarmoe monastery in 1987, and two years later traveled to India, where he pursued advanced Buddhist studies for 19 years, a second source told RFA.
“In 2007, he returned to Tibet, where he intended to work for the restoration and propagation of Buddhism and Tibetan culture in his native region,” Driru Samdrub, a Tibetan living in Europe said, citing contacts in Driru.
He was sentenced in 2008 to a two-year jail term for maintaining “contacts with outside sources,” but was later released and resumed his work teaching Buddhism and the Tibetan language in the Driru area, Samdrub said.
“He also taught Buddhism to Driru’s lay community, which regarded him with reverence and respect,” he said.
Chinese security forces in recent weeks have been raiding monks’ quarters and family homes in “politically unstable” Driru county, seizing computers and mobile phones and conducting daily political re-education classes for area residents, according to sources in the region and in exile.
About 1,000 Tibetans have been detained since authorities launched a crackdown in Driru in September when Beijing began a campaign to force Tibetans to fly the Chinese national flag from their homes, sources say.
The campaign intensified in early October when villagers refused to fly the flags, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into unarmed crowds.
“The Chinese government has identified Driru as a county without political stability,” one source told RFA in an e-mail forwarded from Tibet.
“It believes that if Driru is not brought under control, this could have a disruptive impact in other areas,” RFA’s source said.
Area monks who have studied at Buddhist institutions in neighboring Chinese provinces are being recalled for indoctrination, while monks who have visited India and Nepal are being targeted for “intense re-education sessions,” he said.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008.
A total of 125 Tibetans in China have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by Lobsang Sherab and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.