DHARAMSALA—A group of Tibetan monks, originally from Tibetan-populated regions of China’s southwest Sichuan province, has been released from detention in Qinghai province and returned to their home areas, according to Tibetan sources.
The group had been held for more than four months in the town of Golmud, in Qinghai, with monks from other regions.
All had been studying in monasteries in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), and were suspected of involvement in protests there in March against Chinese rule.
Monks originally from Qinghai had been released earlier into the custody of officials from Qinghai’s United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau and taken from Golmud into house arrest near their homes.
The group from Sichuan—an area still troubled by anti-China protests—was held in Golmud for a longer time, a Tibetan monk living in India said, citing sources in the region.
“They were told that they would be detained pending receipt of a letter from the Sichuan authorities agreeing to take them into custody,” the monk, who asked to be identified only as Tsering, said.
“Finally, a group of 50 to 80 monks and laypersons arrived at the Aba [in Tibetan, Ngaba] county center in Sichuan on Aug. 27,” Tsering said. “They are being detained in a school compound close to the county government complex.”
“The county officials, the police, and the army are jointly monitoring them. They could be undergoing some kind of political re-education campaign.”
Tsering said the monks being held in the school compound are “not allowed to leave” the complex, though their relatives can visit them at the school.
Among those detained are 27 monks from Kirti monastery and monks from the Tse and Gomang monasteries in Aba.
“There are also some businessmen from Aba who were detained in Lhasa during the protests,” Tsering said.
Another monk, one of those released, said the monks were taken from Golmud and returned to Sichuan in separate groups.
“On Aug. 26, a group of 60 monks detained in Golmud was moved to the Aba area in Sichuan. Officials of the United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau, along with a group of local police, went to Golmud and took charge of the monks belonging to their respective counties,” the monk said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Other monks belonging to different areas in Sichuan were moved in different groups on Aug. 27, 28, and 29 from Golmud under escort by officials from their respective United Front and Religious Affairs Bureaus and the police. The last group of 14 monks was moved on Aug. 29 to the Kardze area from Golmud.”
The monks who were held in Golmud had endured beatings and psychological torture, the released monk said. “As a result, many became ill and several developed heart problems.”
“They have been told not to return to their monasteries in Lhasa. Even [now], in their hometowns, their movements are restricted, and they cannot leave without the approval of the local authorities.”
Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.