Three monks arrested at tense Kirti monastery

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Curfews imposed: troops vastly outnumber local population in Ngawa county

Free Tibet has learned of the recent detention of three monks from Kirti monastery in Ngawa county in eastern Tibet (Ch: Aba county, Sichuanprovince). Jamyang Phuntsok (pictured – see note 1) 34 from Joleb village in Ngawa county, was detained on March 3. Two other monks from Kirti, Mewa Gyatso (also pictured, see note 1) and an unidentified monk, were subsequently detained during the night of March 5.

According to a well-placed source who spoke to Free Tibet, the monks were arrested on suspicion of distributing flyers in Ngaba town; the flyers had announced that four Tibetans were intending to set themselves alight in protest against Chinese rule in Tibet on March 10, the highly sensitive 50th anniversary of the Tibetan national Uprising of 1959.

Kirti monastery and the surrounding Ngaba county have witnessed constant repression and intense security since Chinese armed police fired into a crowd of unarmed protesters in Ngaba town on March 16 last year (2). On February 27 this year Free Tibet reported (3) that a monk from Kirti monastery set himself alight in Ngaba town before being shot by armed police. Free Tibet has also learned that officials from both the prefectural and county level in Ngaba recently issued orders in person to members of Kirti monastery’s Democratic Management Committee (4) to sign written pledges that none of the monks at the monastery would be allowed to protest in the run up to March 10. The officials stated that even a minor protest would result in the closing of the monastery, according to the source that spoke to Free Tibet.

Eyewitnesses have spoken of huge deployments of additional troops to deter further protest in the restive area of Ngaba county. It is estimated by sources on the ground that 80% of all troops in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP) are now stationed within the far smaller administrative region of Ngaba county whose local residents are vastly outnumbered on the streets by troops. A curfew of 7pm is reported to have been in place since March 8 with all restaurants and shops ordered closed and unconfirmed reports state that all civilian road traffic was prohibited in the main town of Ngaba county today.

Blacklisted monks ordered out of Lutsang monastery for patriotic re-education after candle-lit protest

Free Tibet has learned of a severe crackdown at Lutsang monastery in Mangra county, Tsolho TAP (Ch: Guinan, Hainan TAP, Qinghai province) following a peaceful candle-lit protest by around 100 monks there on 25 February 2009. A source from the area has told Free Tibet that, following the protest, a list of 190 monks from the total population of 350 at Lutsang was drawn up and read out to the monks by a local government official. The monks on the list were ordered to the local police station one by one and, according to the source, were interrogated and beaten. None of the monks were detained and they were all sent back to the monastery following their interrogations. On 8 March local government officials returned to Lutsang, this time with a list that had been shortened down from the original list of 190 to 109. The 109 names on the new list were read out and the monks named on the new list were ordered to prepare their blankets and food as they were to be moved the next day from Lutsang to an undisclosed location for patriotic re-education.

Matt Whitticase, spokesperson for Free Tibet, said: “These latest protests, despite a recent security lockdown on an unprecedented scale, are a timely reminder that after 50 years of relentless repression China has failed completely to destroy Tibetans’ sense of identity and passionate resistance to Chinese occupation of their homeland.”

Ends

For further information:

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

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

Notes to editor:

(1) Photos of Jamyang Phuntsok and Mewa Gyatso are attached to this email.

(2) Free Tibet’s report on Chinese armed troops firing into a crowd of unarmed protesters in Ngaba last year is available at:http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/reports-spreading-protests-tibet Photos which clearly show exit entry bullet wounds on dead Tibetan bodies brought to Kirti monastery last year are available at: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/photos-kirti-monastery-discretion-advised

The area surrounding Kirti monastery has been strictly policed since March 2008; no journalists have been able to reach Kirti monastery to verify independently the widely-reported shootings. In September 2008 Free Tibet reported further repression at Kirti (4) after 50 monks were severely beaten with rifle butts, spades and meat cleavers by armed police.

(3) Free Tibet’s report on the Kirti monk who set himself alight in February is available at: http://www.freetibet.org/newsmedia/2729

(4) Democratic Management Committees (DMCs) are one of the various measures, or restrictions, imposed on Tibetan monasteries and nunneriesin 1996. Consisting of government-appointed or “patriotic monks”, DMCs replace tradional monastic bodies which for centuries had overseen all religious and administrative aspects of monastic life.