Police in southwestern China’s Sichuan province detained a young Tibetan man this week after he launched a brief protest in a public square, calling out for Tibetan freedom and the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, sources said.
The protest by the still-unidentified youth took place at about 9:40 a.m. on Aug. 18 in Lithang (in Chinese, Litang) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a Tibetan monk now living in India and originally from Lithang told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
“He was seen carrying a portrait of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and heard shouting ‘Free Tibet,’” the monk, named Sermay Loga, said, citing contacts in Lithang.
“He also called out for the return of His Holiness to Tibet,” Loga said.
The young man’s protest took place near a Chinese police post on White Crane Square in the Lithang county seat, and he was quickly detained and taken away in a small black car, Loga said, adding that though few Tibetans were present to witness the incident, “everyone is now aware of it.”
Details on the young man’s identity and present whereabouts and condition were not immediately available due to communications blocks imposed by Chinese authorities in the area.
Reached for comment on Wednesday, an officer on duty at the Lithang police station said he had no record of the protest and hung up the phone.
Tibetan national identity
Tibetans living in Kardze prefecture, in which Lithang county lies, are known for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism and frequently stage protests alone or in groups opposing rule by Beijing.
Tibetans opposed to Chinese rule frequently turn to solitary protest to express their views, Tenzin Nyinjey—a researcher at the India-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy—was quoted as saying by the Tibetan news service phayul.com on Wednesday.
“In occupied Tibet, the right to assembly and freedom of expression doesn’t exist at all,” Nyinjey said.
“Hence, the solo protests that we see every now and then.”
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 142 Tibetans to date setting themselves on fire to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.
Reported by Tenzin Wangyal for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.