Five Tibetan Monks Are Detained in Chamdo on Unknown Charges

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Chinese flags fly at a Tibetan monastery in an undated photo.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Chinese authorities in Tibet detained five monks in a restive eastern prefecture on unknown charges over the weekend, later releasing four, with one placed under strict orders not to travel from his family home, sources said.

All five were residents of Chamdo  (in Chinese, Changdu) prefecture’s Karma monastery, a scene of past protests against Chinese rule and frequent target for harassment by police, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“On June 13, at around 10:30 a.m., a group of Chinese police suddenly arrived at the monastery and detained two monks named Kargyal and Tenzin, taking them to nearby Karma town where they were thoroughly interrogated,” the source said.

Two other monks—who were identified by sources as Barma Kunkyab and Shedrub Dawa-—were then taken into custody that afternoon and also questioned in government offices in the town, he said.

“Two of them were held until late at night and were released around 1:00 a.m., and except for Kargyal, all were eventually allowed to go,” he said.

No reason was given for the monks’ detention, he said.

Beaten in custody

The next day, police returned to the monastery and questioned a monk named Tashi Gyaltsen, the source said.

“He was then taken to the town’s government center and severely beaten up,” he said, adding that Gyaltsen was later released when his brother told authorities their father was in poor health.

“They allowed him to return to his family home under the condition of strict restrictions on his movements,” he said.

Separately, a second local source confirmed the five had been detained, with all but Kargyal eventually released.

“At this time, the Chinese authorities are harassing the monks of Karma monastery,” the source said.

Intrusive campaigns

Karma monastery is located in Chamdo prefecture's Chamdo county, where Chinese authorities in the past have launched intrusive campaigns to identify and monitor the political views of villagers.

In late 2011, Khenpo Lodroe Rabsel, a senior instructor at the monastery, was detained by authorities after monks fled the institution to escape police harassment following an Oct. 26 bomb blast in a nearby town, sources said in earlier reports.

The attack on a government building brought Chinese security forces into the area in large numbers, with authorities later warning senior monks that they would be shot if they failed to heed government orders to return.

Khenpo Rabsel was later released after being jailed for over two years, but was stripped of his robes and forbidden to teach, sources said.

Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 141 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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