Chinese security forces have detained several Tibetans as they moved this week to clamp down on celebrations marking elections held for an exile government, Tibetan sources said.
The March 20 election—in which Tibetan exiles around the world voted for a new prime minister, or Kalon Tripa, and members of parliament—was criticized as “illegal” in official Chinese statements, and Chinese authorities in Tibetan regions warned locals against public display of support.
On polling day, Tibetans in the Ngaba prefecture of western China’s Sichuan province celebrated quietly in their homes, lighting butter lamps and setting out offerings of pure water on their household shrines, India-based Tibetan monks Tsering and Yeshe said, citing contacts in the region.
“That same night, at about 3 a.m., Chinese armed police heard the sound of firecrackers in the Ngaba marketplace, rushed to the site, and detained a few Tibetans,” Tsering and Yeshe said. “Their identity is unknown.”
Then, at around midnight on March 22, Chinese police pulled a young Tibetan named Lobsang Jamyang from his home, Tsering and Yeshe said.
Jamyang, 16, the son of a woman named Dolkar, lived in a village near Kirti monastery, the scene of recent anti-China protests and a self-immolation by a monk, Tsering and Yeshe said.
“Chinese armed police broke in his door and also seized two other men, named Wangchug and Sonam, who were present in the house.”
Chinese police detained several other Tibetans in neighboring areas that night and on March 21, they said.
Monks at the restive Kirti monastery are now undergoing political “reeducation,” Tsering and Yeshe added, and are being made to study China’s Constitution, an official description of the Chinese flag, and other official documents.
Their movements are restricted, they said.
"There are strict restrictions on the movement of monks, and laypeople are also not allowed to move freely. Both internal and international phone and Internet connections are down," agreed a Tibetan in Nepal, citing sources in the region.
Chinese officials from Sichuan province and Ngaba prefecture are present in Kirti monastery and "have registered the name and age of each and every residential monks."
Reached for comment, an official at the Ngaba county-level Public Security Bureau said he was “unaware” of the detention of Tibetans or of anyone named Lobsang Jamyang.
An official at the Ngaba prefecture Religious Affairs Department denied that restrictions were in place at Kirti monastery and said that monks there were free to come and go.
The presence of Chinese political work teams at the monastery was “routine,” he added.
Reported for RFA’s Tibetan service with translations by Rigdhen Dolma, and by Hai Lan for RFA’s Cantonese service with translations by Jigme Ngapo. Written in English by Richard Finney.