Police in northwestern China’s Gansu province have taken four monks into custody at a large and well-known Tibetan monastery, posing in one case as electricians to make the arrest and refusing so far to tell family members where the detained men are being held.
All four of those taken into custody were residents of Labrang Tashikyil monastery in Gansu’s Sangchu (in Chinese, Xiahe) county in the Kanlho (Gannan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a site of frequent protests against Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas, sources said.
Three of the detained monks—Chunggey Jinpa, Kalsang, and Jamyang—were seized by police at around 7:00 p.m. on June 5 while walking in a market near the monastery, a local source told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Tuesday.
“Despite a Chinese law requiring authorities to inform detainees’ relatives of where they are being held within 24 hours, nothing has been heard so far,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Their current whereabouts remain unknown,” he said.
The three come originally from the Bora district of Sangchu county, with Kalsang and Jinpa performers of ritual dance at Labrang and Chunggey Jinpa enrolled in formal Tibetan Buddhist studies at the monastery, the source said.
Taken away in handcuffs
Another Labrang monk, Kalsang Monlam, was detained separately on or about the same day, with plainclothes officers disguised as electricians jumping the fence of his living quarters at the monastery to take him into custody, the source said.
“After first saying they were there to do a job, they forced the monk to unlock his mobile phone and then ransacked his room and took him away in handcuffs,” he said.
The families of the detained monks are now “very concerned about their well-being and present status,” the source said, adding that in similar cases of detention at Labrang it has taken months, and sometimes years, for authorities to formally file charges.
Heightened security measures at Labrang in March included the arrival at the monastery of hundreds of armed paramilitary police, and appeared aimed at preventing protests on the March 10 anniversary of a failed 1959 Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule.
Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled Tibet into exile in the midst of the uprising, and Beijing has repeatedly accused exiled Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, of stoking dissent against its rule ever since.
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 for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.