Tibetans continue to protest in Lithang despite arrival of 2000 elite troops

Monday, 16 March 2009

One confirmed protest took place in the restive region of Lithang county on March 10, according to an eyewitness account received by Free Tibet.

A source stated that at around 2pm on March 10 a Tibetan monk threw a pile of leaflets on to the pavement on the White Crane Road which leads to the main market area of Lithang county town. The monk, Lobsang Wangchuk, 29, is from the Nego monastery and comes originally from Ladkardoe village in Lithang county. As he threw the leaflets into the air he shouted “Free Tibet” and “Long Live His Holiness”, according to the source. About two minutes after scattering the leaflets, Lobsang was accosted by armed police who, according to the source, manhandled him by putting a towel into his mouth and tying his hands behind his back. The source stated that the armed police quickly pushed Lobsang into a police van in which he was driven to an undisclosed location.

Free Tibet has also received a report of an earlier protest at the same location from the same source. The source did not witness the earlier protest and was reporting what had been seen by eyewitnesses. According to the source, a monk, whose identity cannot be confirmed, started distributing flyers on the White Crane Road at around noon. The monk was quickly surrounded by local Tibetans who, according to the source, attempted to prevent the monk from being detained by armed police by holding on to the monk. The source was not able to confirm whether the Tibetan had been detained or not.

The source has also reported that there are more than 20,000 paramilitaries in Lithang county town at present, including around 2000 elite troops that were deployed into Lithang town on March 10.

Three Tibetans arrested in Machu county since March 6

Free Tibet has also received a report of the detention of three Tibetans in Machu county in eastern Tibet (Ch: Gansu province) on March 6 on suspicion of communicating with contacts outside Tibet. One of the detained Tibetans has been identified as Thupa, a monk from the Nurma monastery in Machu county and who is originally from Tsurma town in Mchu county, Ganlho Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The source that reported the arrests to Free Tibet was not able to confirm the identity of the other two Tibetans.

Ends

For further information: Matt Whitticase, External Communications: t +44 (0)20 7324 4605 (o) / +44 (0)7515 788456 (m) or email:matt@freetibet.org

Stephanie Brigden, Director: t +44 (0)20 7324 4605 (o) / +44 (0)7530 528264 (m) or email: stephanie@freetibet.org