Young Tibetans in Restive Prefecture Detained for Independence Call

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A map showing Sog county in Nagchu prefecture in Tibet.

Chinese police in a restive Tibetan prefecture have taken into custody four monks and seven other young Tibetans accused of making public calls for Tibetan independence from Chinese rule, according to Tibetan sources in exile.

The men were detained separately in two groups a day apart in Sog (in Chinese, Suo) county in Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) where Tibetans have resisted forced displays of loyalty imposed by the Chinese authorities, RFA’s sources said, citing contacts in the region.

On Feb. 2, four monks from Dowa Shartsa monastery in Sog county’s Trido village were detained, “accused of putting up about 40 leaflets calling for Tibetan independence and also of destroying a Chinese government-issued gate banner,” Ngawang Tharpa, a Tibetan living in India, told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

The monks were also accused of throwing stones at the windows and doors of the monastery “work team”—government officials assigned to monitor the political views and daily affairs of the monastery’s residents, Tharpa said.

Sources identified the detained monks as Tsultrim Palsang, 20; Lobsang Yeshe, 15; Kalsang Jampa, 22; and Kalsang Dorje, 23.

“Chinese police detained them and took them to the Sog county seat, but it is not known where they are now being held,” Tharpa said.

Call for Dalai Lama's return

Separately, a Belgium-based Tibetan named Rinchen confirmed the detentions, adding that the monks had also written slogans calling for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and declaring "There are no human rights in Tibet."

The next day, police took into custody a second  group of young men, accusing them of writing “May Tibet gain independence!” in sand on a nearby ice-covered river, Rinchen said.

“The Chinese work team in the village discovered and detained them and handed them over to Sog county authorities,” Rinchen said, citing contacts in the region.

The seven, ranging in age from 15 to 20 years, were identified as Sisum Dorje, Lhakpa, Jamyang Gyatso, Dorje, Asang, Margong, and Jigme.

All came from Sog county’s Trido Village No. 3, Rinchen said.

"These youths' families are in great distress, as they do not know what will happen to them now," he said.

China fears unrest may spread

Sog is one of three neighboring counties in Tibet’s eastern Nagchu prefecture from which Chinese authorities now fear political unrest may spread unchecked to other parts of the region.

An Oct. 8 order issued by police in Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa calls for Tibetans traveling from Sog, Drachen (Baqing), and Driru (Biru) to receive greater scrutiny as they move about the city.

Of particular concern is Driru, which has become the center of a campaign by Tibetans resisting forced displays of loyalty to the Chinese state.

The campaign began in early October when villages refused to fly the Chinese flag from their homes, throwing them instead into a river and prompting a deadly security crackdown in which Chinese police fired into an unarmed crowd, killing at least four and injuring about 50.

In response, Beijing identified Driru as a “politically unstable” county and launched an “intense and thorough” political re-education program in area villages and monasteries, according to sources in the region.

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 126 Tibetans 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 RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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