Chinese Police Maintain Presence in Tibetan Monastery Despite Passage of Uprising Anniversaries

rongwo-tongren Chinese riot police and military stand guard near Rongwo monastery, in China's Qinghai province, Sunday March 16, 2008.

A Tibetan monastery in western China’s Qinghai province remains under constant police surveillance despite the passing of two anniversaries of violent protests against Chinese rule.

Police have an increased presence at Rongwo monastery in the town of Rebgong (in Chinese, Tongren) and are ready to crackdown on any incident that arises. The monastery has been the site of several politically motivated self-immolations over the years.

“Three police vehicles are parked in front of the monastery, with armed police manning the entrance,” said a Tibetan source in an interview with RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“[They have installed] surveillance cameras along the streets of the monastery and within its halls. They can closely monitor the monks and any movement of people. The Chinese want to try to thwart any potential incidents, they are ready to spring into action at the sign of any protest,” the source said.

“As March is a sensitive month, the area remains on lockdown,” the source said, adding, “Police are randomly checking travelers on the roads and those from outside the region are thoroughly inspected and have their photos taken.”

RFA reported on March 15 that surveillance in Rebgong extends beyond Chinese police.

“Teachers and communist party members at schools in Rebgong are urged to monitor the students and other people during the sensitive month of March,” said a source in that report.

“The official directive [from the Chinese government] stated that teachers would be fired from their jobs if any incidents, such as the raising of the [Tibetan] flag at the school occurred,” the source said.

Another source said that Chinese officials and communist party members in each district and town are being urged to immediately report incidents of self-immolation, protests, public gatherings and even conducting certain religious rituals in public.

Sensitive Month

China regularly tightens security in Tibet and restricts travel to Lhasa, the capital city, by Tibetans living in western Chinese provinces in March, a month of politically sensitive anniversaries.

On March 10, 1959, Tibetans in Lhasa rose up in protest of Beijing’s tightening political and military control of the formerly self-governing Tibetan region, sparking a rebellion in which thousands were killed.

And on March 14, 2008, a riot in Lhasa followed the suppression by Chinese police of four days of peaceful Tibetan protests and led to the destruction of Han Chinese shops in the city and deadly attacks on Han Chinese residents.

The riot then sparked a wave of mostly peaceful protests against Chinese rule that spread across Tibet and into Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces.

Hundreds of Tibetans were detained, beaten, or shot as Chinese security forces quelled the protests, sources said in earlier reports.

Reported and translated by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong


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