China Detains Two Kirti Monks

Detentions come as a respected Tibetan leader calls for an end to self-immolations.

Undated photo of 21-year-old monk Lopey.
Photo courtesy of Central Tibetan Administration.

Chinese authorities are rounding up more Tibetan monks in the forefront of protests against Beijing’s rule, as Tibetan Buddhism's third most important leader, the Karmapa, appealed Wednesday for Tibetans to end their self-immolation protests.

Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have taken into custody two young monks belonging to the troubled Kirti monastery, the scene of at least eight of the 11 self-immolations this year by Tibetans protesting Chinese rule, according to Tibetan sources in exile.

The monks—identified as Yonten, 19, and Lopey, 21—were picked up in their rooms in the monastery by police on Nov. 4 and Nov. 6 respectively, with no reason given for their detention, said India-based Kirti monks Kanyag Tsering and Lobsang Yeshe, citing sources in the region.

Providing personal details, they said Yonten comes from the Kakatsang family in Chugle Gabma, in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county. His father’s name is Kaka, and his mother’s name is Dronri.

Lopey comes from Trinken Dewa in Ngaba county. His father’s and mother’s names are Sonam Dargye and Sonam Drolma.

The monks' "present whereabouts are unknown,” they said.

Several hundred monks from the Kirti monastery have been taken by Chinese security forces to secret destinations since a Kirti monk self-immolated in March, beginning a wave of burning protests that underscore the desperate situation among Tibetans fighting for freedom for Tibet.

Going house-to-house

Undated photo of 19-year-old Yonten. (Photo courtesy of Central Tibetan Administration)

Teams of Chinese officials are now going house-to-house in the communities of the valleys and highlands of the Ngaba region and are demanding that all children under 18 be sent immediately to government schools, Tsering and Yeshe said.

“Some families had sent their sons to be monks, but officials are insisting that they have to attend school, and some have had to take their sons out of the monastery.”

Families have been threatened with fines of 3,000 yuan (U.S.  $470) per child for failing to comply.

At least 200 officials—some of unclear status or rank—are now present at Kirti monastery at all times, Tsering and Yeshe said.

“They watch the monks’ daily activities and arbitrarily call meetings of the monastery staff, or of the class tutors, or of the teachers, and put obstacles in the way of their routine activities.”

Plainclothes officers are also present in large numbers in Ngaba town and keep a close watch on the town’s central market street, where most of Kirti’s self-immolation protests took place, they said.

End to burnings urged

Meanwhile, the Karmapa, who lives in exile in India with Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, has called on Tibetans to give up the practice of setting themselves on fire, at the same time acknowledging the “injustice and repression under which they live.”

He endorsed the Dalai Lama’s call to the Chinese leadership to end its “repression” in Tibet.

“Such drastic acts [as self-immolations] have their origin in the desperate circumstances in which Tibetans find themselves living," the Karmapa said in a statement published on the website of the International Campaign for Tibet advocacy group.

"A ruthless response will only make things worse. Where there is fear, there can be no trust,” the Karmapa said.
"These desperate acts, carried out by people with pure motivation, are a cry against the injustice and repression under which they live. The situation is unbearably difficult, but in difficult situations we need greater courage and determination."

“In the Buddhist teaching, life is precious,” said the Karmapa, who fled into India from Tibet in 2000.

“To achieve anything worthwhile, we need to preserve our lives,” the Karmapa said.

“We Tibetans are few in number, so every Tibetan life is of value to the cause of Tibet.”

Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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