Leaflets calling for Tibet’s independence from China have been found scattered on a mountain pass in Tibetan-populated Kardze prefecture in Sichuan, prompting a security crackdown and searches of Tibetan vehicles and dwellings in the area, according to local sources.
The discovery five days ago came just two weeks after Chinese security forces fired on unarmed Tibetan worshipers marking the birthday of the Dalai Lama in the same prefecture, wounding several.
“On Monday, July 20, leaflets calling for Tibetan independence were found on Latsekha, a pass visited by travelers and located about 10 miles [16 kilometers] from Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] town,” a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.
The leaflets also carried slogans urging Chinese to “return to China” and calling for the long life of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Following this, police and public security officials have begun investigations and are searching for the persons responsible for the leaflets.”
Places searched include houses and hotels in downtown Kardze and a village located near the pass, he said, adding, “Vehicles traveling past the site of the incident have also been stopped and searched.”
Before the leaflets were discovered, local Tibetans had observed a group of monks in a vehicle near the site, where area residents traditionally burn incense, raise prayer flags, and scatter leaflets containing prayers, the source said.
“Some are speculating that the independence leaflets may have been scattered with the prayers,” he said.
Police fire on crowd
Earlier in the month, at least eight Tibetans were injured when Chinese police fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse hundreds of monks and nuns who had gathered in Kardze prefecture to mark the birthday of the Dalai Lama.
Area residents and exile groups reported that police also beat some in the crowd and smashed the windows of vehicles used to transport the worshipers to the lower slopes of a mountain regarded as sacred in Kardze’s Tawu (Daofu) county.
Chinese leaders regularly accuse the Dalai Lama of trying to “split” Tibet away from China, whose troops marched into the self-governing Himalayan region in 1950.
But the Dalai Lama denies seeking independence for Tibet, saying that he seeks only a “greater autonomy” that will preserve Tibetan cultural and religious freedoms for his homeland as a part of China.
A total of 121 Tibetans have set themselves ablaze to date in self-immolation protests challenging Chinese rule and calling for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Norbu Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.