Police in southwestern China’s Sichuan province have detained a young Tibetan woman after she launched a brief protest on a central street in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county, calling out for Tibetan freedom, sources said.
The solo protest “against Chinese policy” by Dorje Dolma took place at about 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 20 in the seat of Ngaba, a Tibetan source who witnessed the incident told RFA’s Tibetan Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“She shouted in protest for some time before a group of police arrived at the scene and took her away,” the source said.
“Dorje Dolma is the daughter of Dorab (father) and Tamding Tso (mother), and they are residents of Meruma township’s Village No. 2, in Ngaba county,” he said.
A second Tibetan source told RFA that only a few people saw Dolma’s protest because it was held so early in the morning, but authorities were quick to shut it down and take her into custody.
“Not long after her protest began, a group of ten police arrived at the site and took her away,” said the source, who also declined to provide his name.
“Her slogans could not be heard and there is no information about her place of detention or current condition.”
Dolma’s protest follows one held a week earlier in Meruma township by a 23-year-old Tibetan nomad named Woekar Kyi—the mother of a four-year-old son—who had called out for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Kyi was taken into custody on Aug. 15 by local police in Meruma shortly after beginning her protest, and her condition and whereabouts are currently unknown.
In December, two other Meruma residents were also taken into custody—one a student and the other a monk—apparently on suspicion of involvement in activities opposing Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas.
Detained Tibetan identified
Meanwhile, a young Tibetan man detained by police last week in Sichuan after he held a protest in a public square calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, has been identified as Lobsang Thubten, 17, sources said.
Thubten’s protest on Aug. 18 in Lithang (in Chinese, Litang) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, took place near a Chinese police post in the county seat, and he was quickly bundled away in a small black car.
The young man, who is a native of Lithang’s Yonkor village, is now being held at a police station in the county seat, Sermay Loga, a Tibetan monk now living in India and originally from Lithang told RFA’s Tibetan Service, citing local contacts.
“There are lots of restrictions in place in Lithang and nearby—the main reason for this is because of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s death,” Loga said, referring to a popular Tibetan monk who died last month amid unexplained circumstances in a Chinese prison.
“Also, authorities tightened restrictions around the Aug. 1 anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the recent release of Runggye Adrak,” he said, referring to a Tibetan nomad who was freed from prison last month after serving eight years for holding a protest similar to Thubten’s in August 2007.
Authorities have yet to confirm Thubten’s detention.
Reached for comment last week, an officer on duty at the Lithang police station said he had no record of the protest and hung up the phone.
Tibetans living in Kardze prefecture, in which Lithang county lies, are known for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism and frequently stage protests alone or in groups opposing rule by Beijing.
Earlier this month, sources told RFA that authorities in Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s Nyagchuka (in Chinese, Yajiang) county in Kardze have ordered residents to stop discussing the circumstances surrounding his death, and had deployed security personnel and restricted communications there.
Rinpoche, 65, died on July 12 in the 13th year of a life sentence imposed for what rights groups and supporters have described as a wrongful conviction on a bombing charge. He was widely respected among Tibetans for his efforts to protect Tibetan culture and the environment.
The India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has called for an “independent and impartial investigation” into the death of the monk, saying the Chinese government has a legal obligation to determine whether his death was caused intentionally or by negligence.
Runggye Adrak’s detention following his 2007 protest drew hundreds of Tibetan protesters into police and government office compounds in Lithang, prompting police to threaten to shoot when tensions were at their height.
Authorities managed to negotiate an uneasy truce, but security forces then converged on Lithang in large numbers, and local Tibetan Communist Party officials in the area were replaced with Han Chinese.
Sentenced in November 2007 to an eight-year term for “inciting to split the country” and “subverting state power,” Adrak was severely beaten and tortured in detention, and was later confined in Sichuan’s Mianyang prison before his release on July 30, according to TCHRD.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 142 Tibetans to date setting themselves on fire to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Chakmo Tso and Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.