Chinese authorities in Tibet are forcing the return of monks and nuns to a monastery abandoned following a bomb attack on a government building, warning senior leaders that they could be shot if they fail to heed the order, according to sources in Tibet.
At least 10 of the monks and nuns have been unaccounted for following the Oct. 26 bombing in the Chamdo prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which took place in the early morning hours and caused no injuries.
But it brought Chinese security forces into the area in large numbers, leading the monks and nuns of nearby Karma monastery—suspected of involvement in the blast—to flee harassment by government authorities and police.
“On Oct. 30, the authorities called all residents of the Karma area to a meeting and ordered that the monks and nuns who had left return within three days or face arrest,” a Tibetan resident told RFA.
“They said that if the monastery’s senior leaders did not return within two days, they would be shot.”
Armed police then forced their way into retreat centers in nearby areas and made lists of all the monks residing there, the source said.
The rooms of monasteries in neighboring counties like Nangchen were also ransacked and searched, he said.
Detained, unaccounted for
On Nov. 5, senior Nangchen religious leaders Khenpo Lodroe Rabsel and Khenpo Namse Sonam were detained at the remote locations where they had gone into retreat. A layman at nearby Gar monastery was also detained, the source said.
“Karma Norbu and three other monks of Karma monastery were detained and taken away,” the source said, adding that a monk of Karma monastery who was found at nearby Dzigar monastery, also in Chamdo, was also taken away.
Ten or more of the monks and nuns who had left Karma monastery and were later picked up by Chinese forces are unaccounted for, he said.
About 40 monks and nuns have now been returned to Karma monastery, where they are being forced by authorities to attend daily meetings, the source said.
The monastery had been abandoned after security forces and police photographed each monk, took blood samples, and forced them to provide three handwriting samples each, the resident in the area said.
Before they left, the monks and nuns set up a poster in the temple courtyard saying they were fleeing under pressure and that the Chinese should “run the monastery themselves.”
“The keys to the monastery were left behind,” the source said
Reported by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translations by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.