Chinese authorities in Tibet have detained two monks and three other Tibetans for suspected involvement in activities challenging Beijing's rule, such as painting independence slogans, holding prayers for those who "sacrificed" their lives for the Tibetan cause and having politically sensitive information on their mobile phones, according to exile sources.
Monk Tendar was picked up in Trido town in Sog (in Chinese, Suo) county in the Tibet Autonomous Region's Nagchu (Naqu) prefecture last week while senior monk Khenpo Khedup was taken away this week from his Boyak monastery in Menda town in Chamdo (Changdu) county, the sources said.
"It is presumed that Tendar was detained on suspicion of involvement in the appearance of Tibet independence-related writings on an iron bridge in the area," Rinchen, a native of Sog county living in exile in southern India, told RFA's Tibetan Service.
Last month, two monks were detained “on suspicion of involvement in the painting of Tibetan independence slogans on boulders near the iron bridge” in Trido township. They were among more than a dozen monks held in Sog since early March on suspicion of activities challenging Beijing’s rule.
The area around the bridge, where the independence slogans were written in red paint, was under constant watch by several hundred Chinese police and paramilitary troops, sources had said.
Sog is one of three neighboring counties in Nagchu prefecture from which Chinese authorities fear political unrest may spread unchecked to other parts of the region.
An Oct. 8, 2013 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.
Police had recently set up checkpoints on the roads connecting Trido township’s ten villages to monitor the movements of area residents.
Monk Khenpo Khedup, who was picked up in Chamdo on April 13, had been on a watchlist drawn up by the authorities after he was linked to special prayers for Tibetans who "sacrificed their lives for the Tibetan cause,“ a Tibetan from the area told RFA.
This is the second time Khedup, whose title "Khenpo" denotes a senior religious teacher or abbot, has been detained. He was previously held for about a month in 2013.
Many monks belonging to his Boyak monastery have been required to participate in "patriotic reeducation programs" and harassed by authorities, the Tibetan source said.
The reason the three Tibetan laypersons —Phurba, Trindu, and Dadak —were held last week was not clear but some sources linked it to recent detentions of Tibetans over politically sensitive content found in their mobile phones.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Beijing’s rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the area in 2008.
A total of 131 Tibetans have also set themselves ablaze in self-immolation protests calling for Tibetan freedom since February 2009, with another six setting fire to themselves in India and Nepal.
Reported by Pema Ngodup and Kusang Tenzin for RFA's Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.