Eruption of protests in Sichuan

Monday, 24 March 2008

Our contacts in Dharamsala are receiving eyewitness reports by phone and by email from multiple separate sources in Luhuo Couty, Khardze Prefecture, Sichuan Province, that a huge demonstration took place on Monday 24 March at 4.30pm local time.

The sources have reported witnessing a demonstration by 200 nuns from Ngangon nunnery in Trehor town (Ch: Luhuo town), Drango county (Ch: Luhuo county). The demonstration was joined by around 200 monks from Jogri monastery, 150 nuns from Khasum nunnery (from Khasum town) and more lay people, according to the eyewitnesses. The eyewitnesses said that the demonstration was peaceful and that the demonstration continued up to 5pm. According to the eyewitnesses at 5pm the Chinese security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The firing resulted in the confirmed death of one monk according to the eyewitnesses. The monk was named as Kunga, a 21 year old from Jogri monastery who was shot by a bullet to the breast.

The eyewitnesses reported that the police wanted to take the body of Kunga but that the protesters fought with police to reclaim the body so that it could be buried according to Tibetan Buddhist custom. The protesters were successful in recovering the body from the police after calshes although the eyewitnesses did not report the use of lethal force in the clashes between protesters and police over the dead body.

The eyewitnesses reported that the body was taken to the nearby Jogri monastery on the evening of 24 March.

Another 30 year old Tibetan male protester was badly injured after being hit in the kidney with a bullet after police fired into the crowd. His name was reported as Tsangwang Dhondup. The protesters also snatched the body of Tsawang Dhondup at the same time they took the body of Kunga, according to the eyewitnesses.

Following the refusal of the protesters to turn over the bodies to the authorities, eyewitnesses said that a large number of armed troops were mobilised in the county and were surrounding the Jogr monastery. The sources reported that the authorities declared on the night of 24 March that anyone seen out of doors would be shot.

SWEEPING ARRESTS IN LUHOU COUNTY ON MARCH 25

The eyewitnesses reported that on the morning of 25 March the authorities launched door to door searches for the bodies of Kunga and Tsawang Dhondup. Around 90 nuns were arrested as well as Tibetan laypeople although the sources could not confirm the number of laypeople arrested. The authorities found the corpse of Kunga in Jogri monastery and arrested the abbot of the monastery who the eyewitnesses named as Lobsang Wangchen Rinpoche.

The following laypeople were reported as arrested by the eyewitnesses:

Tsewang Gyatso - from Chukhar village.

Kelsang Dawa - from Chukar village

Therchen - from Chukar village

Palden from Chukar village

Kunyang - son of Thaga, from Jang village

Palden Sherba - from Chukar village (hit by a police vehicle which broke his leg, leading to his arrest)

The same eyewitnesses have spoken by phone and by email to our contacts in Dharamsala this morning (26 March).

The eyewitnesses reported that Chinese police were seen beating any Tibetan in Jogri and Trehor townships and throughout Luhuo county, Khardze Prefecture. The eyewitnesses also reported that they had seen the authorities confiscating around 100 motorcycles from Tibetans in order to prevent them from escaping. The eyewitnesses reported that on 26 March all the monks at Jogri monastery had been expelled and that the majority of the nuns at Ngangon nunnery had been arrested and those not arrested had run away. The eyewitnesses reported that the nunnery was empty on 26 March.

Matt Whitticase
Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign

Notes:

For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788456