Tibetan monks at a restive monastery in southwestern China’s Sichuan province refused to take part in a religious rite on Wednesday, claiming that Chinese authorities were staging the event for purposes of “propaganda,” Tibetan sources living in India said.
The ceremony, which is normally held twice a month at the Kirti monastery chapel dedicated to “protector deities,” had been postponed since March 16, when a Kirti monk set himself on fire in a protest against Chinese rule in Sichuan’s Tibetan-majority Ngaba (in Chinese Aba) prefecture.
The monk’s protest sparked a crackdown by Chinese security forces, leading to the forced removal of about 300 monks for “political re-education” on April 22 and the beatings and detention of local Tibetans seeking to protect the monks, and drawing worldwide condemnation.
A few days before June 15, Chinese authorities announced that the long-delayed ceremony honoring the deities would again be held and invited members of the public to attend, said Kanyag Tsering and Lobsang Yeshe, Tibetan monks living at Kirti’s branch monastery in exile in India.
Cameras set up
“Early that morning, many TV cameras were set up at the approaches to the chapel waiting for the monks to arrive,” Tsering and Yeshe said, citing contacts in the Ngaba area.
“But when only about 40 elderly monks showed up, a group of government officials went to the monks’ dormitories and told the monks to come out.”
“The monks replied that the event was being staged for false propaganda purposes, and that they would not comply,” Tsering and Yeshe said, adding that about 100 plainclothes policemen were then deployed “in and around” the chapel.
Tsering and Yeshe said that camera crews filmed laypeople making incense offerings, and interviewed several.
“But as there were few monks there, [the local Tibetans] said how sad they were that since March 16 they had not seen the monks assemble, and they returned home with tears in their eyes.”
Brother and sister beaten
Meanwhile, two days earlier, Chinese security forces severely beat a Tibetan brother and sister who had refused to quarter troops at their family guesthouse near Kirti. Both were sent to the hospital, Tsering and Yeshe said.
Tsering and Yeshe described the two as “a son and daughter of the Trinpo family of Lower Subdivision No. 1.”
“The Trinpo family has a four-storey guesthouse at the crossroads on the main road near Kirti monastery, and they had been ordered to accommodate soldiers there. The boy and girl from this family were beaten because they refused this order,” Tsering and Yeshe said.
The two had also been beaten in 2008 when they refused another order to quarter troops, and that same year the Lower Subdivision head was removed from office for refusing to attend a political meeting held to denounce Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Tsering and Yeshe said.
Among the 300 monks forcibly removed from Kirti monastery by Chinese police on April 22, Tsering and Yeshe said, those coming originally from the Golog and Yushu prefectures of neighboring Qinghai province have now been released and returned to their home areas.
“They were forbidden to return to Kirti,” they added, “and have been told that the government will send their possessions to them.”
The circumstances of Kirti monks coming from other provinces are still unclear, they said.
Reported for RFA’s Tibetan service by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.