Chinese authorities in Sichuan province have detained a Tibetan woman suspected of anti-government leafleting and have shut down her family’s printing press, according to Tibetan sources in the region.
The protest action—in which thousands of leaflets calling for Tibetan independence and for the return to Tibet of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama—took place on May 11 in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) county of the Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, sources said.
The leaflets were distributed in two locations, a local Tibetan said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“One location was at the central square of the Kardze [county seat], called Tagshido, close to a military post. The other place is called Kunphel Shang, near the People’s Hospital and the police headquarters.”
The leaflets, which were picked up and read by Tibetan students in the area, also called for the inauguration of recently elected exile prime minister Lobsang Sangay to be held in Tibet, the source said.
“Later, local residents saw that police had scampered to collect the leaflets, which filled two large bags. The leaflets were all printed,” he said.
“Four days after the incident, at midnight on May 15, the Kardze police arrested a Tibetan woman named Chime, 37, who worked at a printing press in Kardze county,” another Tibetan resident of the area said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“At the time she was detained, the Chinese police ransacked her house, and items were broken. Her 13-year-old son was also repeatedly interrogated,” the source said.
“Chime comes from Dardo Shang in Kardze county,” the man continued. “She and her husband had run a printing business for years in the county.”
In addition to taking Chime into custody, police also confiscated the family’s printing press, the source said.
Kardze prefecture, one of several Tibetan-majority areas of western China and historically a part of Tibet’s Kham region, has been the scene of repeated Tibetan protests—both by individuals and in groups—against Chinese rule in recent years.
In a separate development, local Tibetans have warmly welcomed the release of two monks of Tsitsang monastery in Kardze county who were arrested by Chinese police during the bloody 2008 uprising in Tibet.
The monks, Tenzin Ngodrub and Loyang, were freed in March 2011 after about three years in jail.
Local Tibetans lined up to welcome the ex-political prisoners, offering them the traditional white scarves and shouting “The gods are victorious!”
Much of Tibet has been under tight security since a peaceful demonstration by monks in 2008 in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, was violently suppressed, leading to a riot that left at least 22 dead according to Chinese authorities.
Tibetan protests in three neighboring Chinese provinces followed, prompting Beijing to dramatically increase its troop presence in the region.
The Tibetan government-in-exile in India says about 220 Tibetans died and nearly 7,000 were detained in the subsequent regionwide crackdown.
Reported by Norbu Damdul for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translation by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.