Latest Updates on Tibet Demonstrations


2008.03.25
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Armed paramilitary police are paraded by the truckload along the streets of Lijiang, south of Shangrila on March 24, 2008 in southwest China's Yunnan province. AFP

As communication becomes more difficult with people living inside Tibet, cell phone conversations with family and friends overseas and second-hand accounts continue to describe China's crackdown on Tibetan protests. For security reasons, we do not identify some of our sources by name in order to protect them from retaliation.

In Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) county, there is an Institute called the Amdo Ngaba Buddhist School of Dialectics. On March 30, I heard that many monks there were detained and taken away. Many ordinary Tibetans were also detained in that area. In the same county, there is a monastery called Amdo Ngaba Gomang. Sixteen monks were detained from there alone. Many police came to that monastery and searched everywhere, including the monks' quarters.

Amdo Atob monastery was also raided. Seventeen monks were detained there and taken away, and no one knows where they were taken. Many plainclothes officials and police also came to Tatsang Lama Kirti monastery in Dzoege (in Chinese, Ruo'ergai) county, detained 17 monks, and took them to a local detention center. Under current restrictions of movement, both monks and ordinary Tibetans who need medical attention are not receiving any treatment. Even before the recent unrest, medical facilities were rare. Now, those who have been injured in the crackdown are afraid to go for treatment. Shortages of food are severe, and Tibetans are not allowed to move around to procure their daily needs.

As of March 29, over 500 monks have been taken away from the Kirti monastery in Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba). Several hundred armed police raided and searched the Kirti monastery, including the monks' quarters. They found several photographs of the Dalai Lama which they smashed and ground under their feet … Many ordinary Tibetans are also being detained. About 30 lay Tibetans were put into a police truck and paraded in the local town.

-- Tibetan source in India, speaking with RFA's Tibetan service and citing his own sources in Tibet, March 31, 2008

After the announcement was made [that reporters could travel on Thursday to Lhasa], we tried like mad to get more information from the Foreign Ministry and the State Council's information office. They said only a certain number of people could go, that there was only a limited number of slots. None of the major television media outlets were selected. The only exceptions were AP television, which only provides video footage without actual reporting, and Al Jazeera Arabic. Al Jazeera English was not invited. The selection was most likely based on certain considerations … There was a protest today [during the visit]. I think a second such tour may be difficult.

-- Journalist working in Beijing for a Western television station, speaking with RFA's Mandarin service, March 27, 2008

On March 25, at the Trehor Draggo monastery [Ganzi/Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture], the monks were planning to rise up and protest, but could not at first find anyone to lead them. Then, during a special prayer session organized for those who had been killed in the Chinese crackdown in the Kardze area, they decided to go ahead with the protest.

About 300 monks came out wearing the full dress of ordained monks and carrying pictures of the Dalai Lama, and marched peacefully toward the Draggo county center, not far from the monastery. A group of local police, mainly Tibetans, warned the monks to stop and return to the monastery, but the monks booed them and shouted that they should be ashamed to work for the Chinese government. The Tibetan policemen then persuaded some Chinese policemen, who had raised their weapons, to put down their guns.

So, under this pressure, the Tibetan police allowed the monks to move toward the county center. There, the monks shouted slogans calling for the long life of the Dalai Lama and demanding that he be allowed to return to Tibet, demanding the release of the Panchen Lama, and demanding that Tibetans be allowed religious freedom and human rights. Other Tibetans joined them at the county center. Armed police then arrived and tried to remove the monks, but the monks stayed in groups holding on to each other and did not allow anyone to be taken away.

The monks then marched back to the monastery and continued their protests. At one point, shots were fired, but the monks dodged the bullets by lying flat on the ground and declared that they would not respond with violence, though some of them damaged Chinese government vehicles on the way back. The monastery has now been surrounded by the People's Armed Police, and the monks have all been ordered to leave.

-- Tibetan sources in India, speaking to RFA reporters, March 26, 2008

'With just one phone call, we can finish you.’

In the Chabcha area of Amdo [Hainan/Tsolho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture], there is a small monastery called Atso. I am from this monastery.

On March 22, at around 11:15 a.m., the monks there began to protest. They put up Tibetan flags and gathered on the hilltop just behind the monastery, where they burned incense. They raised slogans like 'Freedom for Tibet!,' 'Long Live the Dalai Lama!,' and 'Release the Panchen Lama!'

There are about 100 monks in the monastery.

After these protests in the surroundings of the monastery, the monks all walked to the township center, not very far away. There, they pulled down the Chinese flag at the local government school and burned it. Then they returned to the monastery and continued their protest. Three trucks full of police then arrived, and the head of the police threatened the monks with 'serious consequences' if they continued their protest. He told them that 'with just one phone call, we can finish you.'

The monks shouted back that they can no longer bear Chinese repression and that they are ready to sacrifice their lives. The head lama and young Rinpoche of the monastery then calmed the monks down.

So far there have been no incidents of detentions or shootings in the area.

The local population also gathered and tried to join the monks, but was blocked by the Chinese in two different locations.

-- Monk at Drepung monastery in India, speaking with RFA's Tibetan service and citing his own sources in Tibet, March 24, 2008

No one has lost their life so far

On March 18, over 1,000 monks and local Tibetans protested in the area of Sangchu county [Gannan/Kanlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture].

They marched to the county government center and raised the slogans 'Long Live the Dalai Lama!,' 'Freedom for Tibet!,' and 'Release the Panchen Lama!' They also called on the Chinese leadership to begin a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and demanded that the Dalai Lama be allowed to visit Tibet.

They then went to the local government school, pulled down the Chinese flag, and replaced it with the Tibetan flag. No security forces arrived on that day.

However, on March 21 at around 7:00 p.m., armed Chinese security forces arrived at the monastery and detained four monks and three laypeople.

Another four monks were detained at another monastery. Over 20 Tibetans were finally detained. They even detained some teenaged monks who were reading scriptures.

No one has lost their life so far … Some of those detained are Targyal (age 43), Choepel (age 42), Kalsang Tenzin (age 40), Jamyang (age 32), Sangye Gyatso (age 13), Tashi Gyatso (age 14), Kalsang Sonam (age 16), Kalsang Dondrub (age 17), Kalsang Tenzin (age 16), Choedrub (age 30), Damchoe (age 29). Those detained at the other monastery are Tenzin (age 27), Tenpa Gyatso (age 37), Zoepa (age unknown), and Kalsang Sherab (age 19).

-- Monk at Drepung monastery in India, speaking with RFA's Tibetan service and citing his own sources in Tibet, March 23, 2008

Helicopters flying over Ngaba

they are flying over the local monastery and the Tibetan areas and are frightening the local Tibetans …

On March 23, Tibetans in the Amdo Ngaba [Aba/Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture] area saw helicopters hovering very low over them.

This could be intended to threaten the local Tibetans. In the past, there were no incidents of helicopters flying over Ngaba, but now they are flying over the local monastery and the Tibetan areas and are frightening the local Tibetans …

Two days ago, on March 21, local Chinese leaders entered Kirti monastery and conducted re-education sessions with the monks. While conducting these sessions, the officials did not insist on condemning the Dalai Lama. Instead, they tried to persuade the monks that what they had done [in earlier protests] was wrong and 'not helpful.'

Some local Tibetans and monks tried to bring food to the monks being held inside Kirti monastery, but security forces stopped them. The monks inside Kirti monastery are facing a severe shortage of food, and the main roads leading to the Ngaba county centers are blocked by the People's Armed Police. So both monks and laypeople are facing shortages of food, and if they become desperate they may rise again.

Chinese officials are trying to entice local Tibetans to inform on persons involved in the protests, saying that first informers will be rewarded with unlimited money, while second informers will receive 5,000 yuan, and so on.

Many ordinary Tibetans are being detained. On average, one member of each Tibetan family is being taken away for interrogation and detention. The Chinese officials are displaying photographs and asking people to identify the persons shown in them.

-- Monk at Dharamsala, India, branch of Kirti monastery, speaking with RFA's Tibetan service and citing sources in Tibet, March 23, 2008

One person from each family is being taken away

Following the demonstration in the Penpo area [near Lhasa] on March 14 and 15, five monks were detained.

Later, over 3,000 Tibetans--monks from the Penpo Ganden Choekor monastery and other monasteries and nunneries as well as laypeople--joined the demonstrations and demanded the release of those who had been detained earlier.

A Tibetan youth was killed during the demonstration and crackdown, though the cause of his death is still unclear.

Now, Penpo Ganden Choekor monastery is surrounded by Chinese security forces. There were 90 monks there, and except for three elderly monks, all were detained and taken away. Altogether, 160 Tibetans are confirmed to have been detained. The total number could be much higher.

In fact, my source told me that one person from each family is being taken away. They were threatened with 'serious consequences' if they call or talk with outside contacts, so they are afraid to give detailed information.

--Exiled Tibetan, formerly from Penpo, speaking with RFA's Tibetan service and citing sources in Tibet, March 23, 2008

Original reporting in Tibetan

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