Tibetan monks remaining at a restive Buddhist monastery in China’s Sichuan province are being forced to undergo a “grueling” routine of political re-education by Chinese authorities after 300 of their number were forcibly removed by Chinese security forces, sources said.
The detained monks from Kirti monastery in the Ngaba prefecture were taken away in buses on the night of April 21 by Chinese armed police who also brutally attacked a crowd of mostly elderly Tibetans outside the monastery, killing two.
Following the monks’ removal, “there have been no reports of additional detentions or arrests,” said Kanyag Tsering, a monk at Kirti monastery’s branch monastery in exile in Dharamsala, India, citing sources in the region.
“However, the situation inside the monastery is tense,” Tsering said.
After receiving messages urging restraint from Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and from Kirti Rinpoche—their own senior lama in exile—most of the Kirti monks are again taking part in “grueling sessions of re-education programs in the monastery” imposed following the March 17 self-immolation death of a Tibetan monk protesting Chinese rule.
“Many [others] are fed up with the program, though, and have refused to attend,” he said.
Relatives detained, sent back
Armed Chinese police have been withdrawn from the monastery but are stationed nearby in camouflaged vehicles, he said, adding that security personnel in plain clothes are still present on the monastery grounds.
“These civilian police are harassing the monks and making their lives miserable,” he said.
On April 27, a group of 70-80 Tibetans from the neighboring Golog prefecture went to Ngaba in about 40 vehicles to show support for relatives enrolled as monks in the monastery, a Tibetan living in Ngaba said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“When they had traveled as far as the Gyatoe subdistrict in Upper Ngaba, Chinese security forces detained them,” he said.
“Many of those Tibetans come from Chigdril [in Chinese, Jiuzhi] county, and are worried about their relatives at Kirti monastery. They have received no information about their present condition,” he said.
By April 29, authorities in Chigdril had returned the group to their home county, Kanyag Tsering said, speaking from India.
Rights group condemns crackdown
Meanwhile, a Tibetan human rights group has condemned the use of “extreme violence” by Chinese forces in the recent crackdown at Kirti.
The Dharamsala, India-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) also highlighted concerns for the safety of the 300 monks taken away to what the group called an unofficial detention center by police.
“The Center condemns the extreme violence employed by the Chinese security forces in quelling peaceful demonstrations in Tibet and especially in Ngaba county in recent days,” the group said in a news release.
“The so-called ‘patriotic re-education’ campaign in Kirti monastery should stop immediately, and the 300 monks transported to a black jail should be safely returned to their rightful place—Kirti monastery,” TCHRD said.
TCHRD said it is “extremely concerned” over the fate of the detained monks.
“The normal religious activities and spiritual studies of the Kirti monastery have been severely disturbed in the extreme security measures adopted by the Chinese law enforcement agencies,” the group said.
U.S. expresses concern
The Tibet clampdown was among issues raised this week by Washington at a two-day U.S.-China Human Rights Dialogue, a recurring discussion held this time in Beijing.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, who led the U.S. side in the talks, accused China of "serious backsliding" on human rights following the talks Thursday.
The talks came amid one of the harshest crackdowns by Chinese authorities on lawyers, political activists, and intellectuals in years, sparked by online, anonymous calls for "Jasmine" protests inspired by recent uprisings in the Middle East.
Chinese officials and state media have repeatedly rejected what they call "U.S. meddling" over human rights issues in China, saying that the well-being of China's people has improved greatly since economic reforms began three decades ago.
Reported by Chakmo Tso and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA’s Tibetan service, by Ho Shan for the Cantonese service, and by Lin Ping for the Mandarin service. Translations by Karma Dorjee and Luisetta Mudie. Written in English by Richard Finney and Luisetta Mudie.