A young Tibetan monk was taken into custody on Wednesday in western China’s Sichuan province after launching a solitary protest challenging Beijing’s rule in Tibetan areas and calling for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, according to sources.
Sonam Yarphel, a 22-year-old monk belonging to the Mangge monastery in Sershul (in Chinese, Shiqu) county in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, staged his protest at the Sershul county center at about 3:50 p.m. local time, sources told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.
It was the fourth Tibetan solo protest in the Kardze prefecture over the last four months. Tibetans in Kardze prefecture are known for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism and frequently stage protests alone or in groups opposing rule by Beijing.
“[Yarphel] shouted slogans calling for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, and held up a banner in both hands as he walked in protest through the town,” one local source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“After protesting for several minutes, he was overpowered by police and taken into custody,” he said.
Separately, other local sources confirmed Yarphel’s protest and detention.
“He was taken away by security officials and is now being held at the county detention center in Sershul,” one source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
Monks questioned, Internet blocked
Police later arrived in the Sershul county center in large numbers, another source said, adding, “It is now very difficult to get updated information since the Internet has been shut down in our area.”
“Right now, I am away from the county center,” he said.
Chinese officials and police officers are now present at Mangge and are questioning the monastery’s 150 to 160 monks, sources said.
Reached by RFA for comment, a duty officer at the Sershul county police office said, “I heard about this incident, but don’t know the details,” before referring the call to another department.
Sporadic demonstrations challenging Chinese rule have continued in Tibetan-populated areas of China since widespread protests swept the region in 2008, with 133 Tibetans to date setting themselves ablaze to oppose Beijing’s rule and call for the return of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Reported by Lobsang Choephel, Kunsang Tenzin, and Pema Ngodup for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.