HONG KONG—A Tibetan monk in China’s remote Qinghai province has petitioned authorities to investigate the disappearance of a large sum of cash from his monastery quarters, saying he believes police officers who searched his room are responsible.
In an unusual petition to county prosecutors, Choyang Gyatso wrote that 23,000 yuan vanished from his quarters at Rongwo monastery between April 17 and April 19, for which he blames 20 police who searched the premises after they detained him.
He also threatened to sue the government unless authorities investigate.
The letter, dated May 13, informs the Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) People’s Procuratorate that on the afternoon of Choyang Gyatso’s detention, police “searched my room in the monastery, and took 23,000 yuan.”
"After I was released on the morning of April 19, I found the cloth bag was on my bed in my room, but the ceremonial scarf and the money had vanished."
“The money includes donations by the devotees and the families of my fellow monks including Tenzin Lekshek, Yonten Yarphel, and Lodro Tenpa from Gendun Tengyal monastery. Yeshe from Jiantsa and Khedrup from Dro Rongwo can testify that I had the money in my room,” he said.
Demand to investigate
“Those who searched my room included 15 special policemen and five armed policemen… The cash was wrapped in a yellow ceremonial scarf and placed in a red cloth bag,” he wrote.
“After I was released on the morning of April 19, I found the cloth bag was on my bed in my room, but the ceremonial scarf and the money had vanished,” Choyang Gyatso wrote.
“I think this is directly related to those people who searched my room, and they should be held directly responsible for the incident.”
“Therefore, hereby I would like to request that the People’s Procuratorate quickly investigate the incident, and demand that those who stole my money from my room return it immediately. If your esteemed working unit does not investigate the incident, I will sue and find out all the illegal actions of those involved in this incident, at any cost.”
No comment available
Several phone calls during working hours rang unanswered at the Rongwo monastery and at the Tongren county Public Security Bureau.
The Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser said she had received a copy of the letter, which bears the fingerprints of Choyang Gyatso and several witnesses.
“On April 17, many of the monks from Rongwo monastery, along with many lay people, were detained, including Choyang Gyatso,” Woeser said.
“Part of the 23,000 yuan in question had been given to him by his family, and some came from donations and payments for prayer sessions. He had saved the money to be used on the monastery."
Numerous monks and lay people were detained around April 17 in and around Rongwo monastery, Woeser said.
That was a little more than a month after the worst protests in almost 50 years erupted against Chinese rule in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and neighboring Sichuan and Qinghai provinces.
Allegations similar to those in the petition have emerged in other Tibetan areas as well.
On April 18, 23 trucks filled with 30-50 troops each from the Lanzhou Northwestern Military Command reportedly raided Tsendrok monastery in Amdo Maima, Machu (in Chinese, Maqu) county, in Gansu province, saying they were searching for weapons.
They found some rifles stored at the monastery by nomads, and they removed a large golden Buddha statue, along with a number of religious relics, Tibetan witnesses said.
“The gross value of all the sacred religious objects taken from the monastery is estimated at more than 105 million yuan,” one Tibetan source said. Monks complained and officials said they were investigating, she said.
Original reporting in Mandarin by Gao Shan, and in the Amdo dialect of Tibetan by Palden Gyal and Chakmo Tso. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Translated and written for the Web in English by Sarah Jackson-Han and Jennifer Chou. Edited by Luisetta Mudie and Karma Dorjee.