Massive Security Buildup in Lhasa

An official report gives an account of the security buildup following the first self-immolation protest in Tibet's capital.

Young military recruits gather for a ceremony in Beijing prior to their departure for Tibet, Nov. 20, 2011.

More than 3,000 security personnel have been deployed to bolster security in Lhasa following the first Tibetan self-immolation protest in the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, according to an official document obtained by RFA.

One protester who survived the burning last Sunday has been identified as a former monk, but details on his condition were not made available after he was bundled into a security vehicle and taken away from the protest site in front of the famous Jokhang Temple in central Lhasa, sources said.

According to the official document dated May 29, the security forces deployed in the capital to “carry out investigations in sensitive areas” include “large contingents of armed police, soldiers, and special forces.”

“They have stopped all vehicles and pedestrians in Lhasa city, thoroughly searching inside the vehicles and checking identity papers,” said the Chinese-language report, the first official account of the magnitude of the security buildup in Lhasa, which had already seen heightened security since anti-government riots rocked the capital four years ago.

“In the last 24 hours alone, 11,731 vehicles and 28,046 individuals have been searched,” it said.

Among those, it said, 157 Tibetans from the Tibetan-populated Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and Yunnan “were closely questioned, and 35 who were found without proper permits were sent back to their native places.”

In addition, 13 monks and nuns were also repatriated to the Chinese provinces, the report said.

Earlier accounts this week said hundreds of Tibetans have been detained since the May 27 self-immolation amid additional controls imposed on the Internet and telephone lines.

“Controls on Tibetans’ mobile phones and other electronic devices in Ngaba have been increased, and it is now hard for them to communicate not only with the outside but even with [Sichuan’s provincial capital] Chengdu and neighboring areas of China,” Kanyag Tsering , a Tibetan monk living in India, said, citing sources in the region.

Protester identified as former monk

Meanwhile, the young Tibetan man who survived the self-immolation was identified as a former monk from the restive Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture in Sichuan.

Dargye, 25, apparently survived his burns after Chinese security forces extinguished the flames of the two self-immolators and took him to hospital, sources said.

The other protester, identified as Dorje Tseten, died at the scene, state media reported.

Dargye came from Soruma village in the Choejema township of Ngaba prefecture’s Ngaba county, Kanyag Tsering said.

Dargye’s father’s name is Lodey and his mother’s name is Shekyi, Tsering said.

“He was the youngest of six children. He joined Kirti monastery at a young age, and a few years ago he disrobed and took a job as a cashier at a restaurant in Lhasa owned by the Chukel family, a trading family from Ngaba.”

Following Dargye’s self-immolation, Chinese authorities detained the restaurant owner, together with his wife and family and six members of a Lhasa-area Ngaba community association, Tsering said.

Five of those detained were identified as Nyurgyog, Khambey, Tamdrin Kyab, Sangdrak, and the group’s chairman, Drolma Kyab. The identity of the sixth group member is still unknown.

Separately, another former monk from Ngaba, Khedrub Dramnak, was also detained, Kanyag Tsering said.

Dargye’s and Dorje Tseten’s self-immolations were the first reported in the Tibetan capital amid a wave of other burning protests, now totaling 38, by Tibetans challenging China’s rule in historically Tibetan areas and calling for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Most of the previous protests have taken place in Sichuan province’s Ngaba and Kardze prefectures and in two other Tibetan-populated provinces in western China, Qinghai and Gansu.

On Wednesday, in the latest self-immolation, a Tibetan mother of three set herself ablaze in Ngaba prefecture’s Dzamthang county.

Reported by Tseten Namgyal, Rigdhen Dolma, and Dorjee Tso for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai and Richard Finney.


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