A Tibetan man sought by authorities for his involvement in a violent protest questioning Chinese rule has been detained in Sichuan, as Beijing steps up its drive to round up and jail protesting Tibetans and those linked to self-immolations, according to sources in the region and in exile.
Pema, 22, was wanted in connection with a protest a year ago in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture that began peacefully but ended in violence when Chinese security forces opened fire on the crowd, killing at least five.
“Pema was wounded in the arm, but managed to escape into the hills,” an India-based Tibetan told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing contacts in the region.
After evading capture for more than a year, he was taken into custody on March 8 following a visit to his family, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Pema’s father, Tepo, and mother, Norgyun, are residents of Akyab village in Serthar county’s Nubsur township, the source said, adding, “His family members have no idea of his whereabouts or present condition.”
Authorities had earlier given Pema’s family “false assurances” that Pema would be released if he surrendered voluntarily and “confessed” to his involvement in the Jan. 23-24, 2012 protest in Serthar, but it is unclear if this resulted in his capture, the source said.
The protest in Serthar began with the appearance in public of posters calling for more self-immolations by Tibetans and urging Tibetans not to allow the bodies of protesters who set themselves ablaze to be taken away by Chinese security forces, local sources said.
“Leaflets containing the [banned] Tibetan national flag and slogans such as ‘Long live the Dalai Lama,’ ‘Shame on China,’ and ‘Victory to Tibet’ were scattered during the protests,” one source reported.
Some 107 Tibetans have self-immolated so far in protests challenging Chinese rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India.
Chinese courts have jailed more than a dozen Tibetans, including monks, in connection with the self-immolation protests in the last few weeks. Some were given jail terms of up to 15 years.
Human rights groups have criticized the Chinese authorities for criminalizing the burning protests.
Chinese authorities have also deployed paramilitary forces and have restricted communications in the areas where self-immolations have occurred.
Reported by Lumbum Tashi for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.