Kirti Monastery Monk Arrested for Protesting Against the Chinese Government

2015-03-17
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Lobsang Kelsang, a 19-year-old monk, was arrested in Ngaba county, March 17, 2015.
Lobsang Kelsang, a 19-year-old monk, was arrested in Ngaba county, March 17, 2015.
Photo courtesy of an RFA listener.

Chinese police arrested a young Tibetan monk on Tuesday in Amdo Ngaba in a southwest China province after he staged a solo protest against the Chinese government, Tibetan monks and other sources said.

Lobsang Kelsang, 19, held up a portrait of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in his left hand and threw prayer leaflets the air with his other hand at 3:40 p.m. along the main thoroughfare in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba), a Tibetan region of southwest China’s Sichuan province, according to the sources, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.

He shouted slogans calling for “Freedom for Tibet” before the Chinese police arrived at the scene and immediately arrested him, they said.

The monk’s current whereabouts and condition are unknown, they added.

Kelsang hails from Jaruwa town in Amdo Ngaba. He is the second son in his family and has two siblings, according to sources.

The Chinese government's administrative region known as Ngaba county lies at the center of the older Ngaba region in Amdo, which was once a center for nomadic herders, and an area of great religious reverence.

Kelsang joined Kirti monastery at a young age and was studying Tibetan Buddhism there at the time of his arrest, said Kanyag Tsering and Lobsang Yeshi, two monks from the Kirti monastery who live in exile in Dharamsala, India. They said they got the information about Kelsang through contacts in Amdo Ngaba.

Kirti monastery is one of more than 20 monasteries of the Gelugpa sect of the Dalai Lama and one of the most important such places inside Tibetan lands.

Amdo Ngaba and other Tibetan communities in the region are under heavy surveillance by Chinese security forces, which control their movement, restrict entry to the areas by outsiders, and deploy re-education teams in monasteries. They quickly suppress and arrest monks and ordinary people who participate in political protests.

Authorities usually impose restrictions on the flow of information in Amdo Ngaba following protests, sources there said.

Reported by Gai Tho for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

CH. 1: MANDARIN | CANTONESE

CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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