KATHMANDU—Chinese authorities briefly detained more than 300 Tibetan Buddhist nuns in Sichuan province after they marched on county offices demanding the release of a protesting colleague, Tibetan sources said.
Early on June 8, a nun identified as 28-year-old Tsering Tsomo from Samten Ling nunnery was detained as she handed out leaflets in the Draggo [in Chinese, Luhuo] area calling for the return of Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, Tibetan sources said.
More than 300 nuns from Samten Ling nunnery—in Kham Trehor in Draggo county in Kardze [Ganzi] prefecture—marched to the county government offices in support of Tsering Tsomo at around 5 p.m., they said. All were detained and many were beaten, according to several sources.
“One nun named Urgyen Lhamo was even struck with some kind of sharp weapon and was badly injured,” one source said. All but 10 were freed at about 10:30 p.m., the sources said.
Another source described watching the nuns being driven away.
“There are about 300 to 400 nuns in Samten Ling nunnery, and this time every one of them participated in the protest,” the witness said. “Later, when they were detained, I saw them being taken away in four or five police trucks.”
Earlier, on June 6, three monks protested at the same county government building. “They raised slogans calling for Tibet’s independence and then were detained and taken away,” one witness said.
The monks were identified as Jamyang Tsewang Drakpa, 22, from Draggo; Thubten Gyatso from Tawu [in Chinese, Daofu] county; and Jamsem Nyima, 22, from Sershul [Shiqu] county.
“They brought two kinds of leaflets which they distributed among the local Tibetans,” the witness said. “The first leaflet contained an appeal for Tibet’s independence and condemned China’s leaders for not responding positively to the Dalai Lama’s demand for genuine autonomy for Tibet. The second leaflet called for political, economic, and cultural freedom for Tibetans.”
No comment was immediately available from county government officials.
Series of protests
This latest protest comes nearly three months after a massive crackdown ended the worst anti-Chinese unrest in Tibet in nearly 50 years, including significant demonstrations in Kardze. Sporadic protests have continued despite the crackdown, in which an unknown number of people were killed, with protesters swiftly detained.
“Many separatists have been detained,” a spokesman for the Public Security Bureau in Kardze said May 15 when asked to comment on a new spate of detentions. “They were detained according to the laws of China. You can tell anyone you want.”
Chinese authorities have made numerous arrests and launched a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at Tibetans in the wake of rioting that began in Lhasa in mid-March and then spread to other Tibetan areas.
Beijing says 22 people were killed in the rioting. Tibetan sources say scores of people were killed when Chinese paramilitary and police opened fire on crowds of demonstrators.
Chinese authorities have blamed the Dalai Lama for instigating the protests and fomenting a Tibetan independence movement. The Dalai Lama rejects the accusation, saying he wants only autonomy and human rights for Tibetans.
Original reporting in Kham and Amdo by Tsewang Norbu and Dorjee Tso, respectively, for RFA’s Tibetan service. Translation by Karma Dorjee and copy-editing by Richard Finney. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written and produced in English by Sarah Jackson-Han.