Firecracker crackdown

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Firecracker crackdown in Tibet

Chinese stop celebrations of Dalai Lama award

Free Tibet Campaign has learned that recent clashes in Lhasa between monks and police (as reported by Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao on Sunday) were not limited to Lhasa and that the Chinese authorities had also cracked down on Tibetans celebrating the award in various locations throughout the Amdo region (the Chinese provinces of Gansu and Qinghai). Ming Pao reported that monks at Lhasa's Drepung Monastery had clashed with Chinese police for four days following a US Government award to the Dalai Lama on October 17. The clashes were sparked after armed Chinese police entered Labrang Monastery to stop special prayers being held for the Dalai Lama.

After speaking by telephone to eyewitnesses in Amdo, a highly trusted Tibetan source in India told Free Tibet Campaign that people in Labrang had been buying firecrackers with which to celebrate the award.

According to the eyewitness, the authorities in Labrang ordered all shops selling firecrackers to close on October 13. Monks who travelled from Labrang to Linsha to buy firecrackers in defiance of the ban were stopped by Chinese police who confiscated approximately Chinese Yuan 8,000 worth of firecrackers.

The eyewitnesses also reported seeing four truckloads of military personnel outside Tso monastery on October 17, whilst other eyewitnesses reported a large military presence outside Labrang Monastery on the same evening.

The eyewitnesses in Amdo also reported that they had heard that the authorities in Chentse County had confiscated satellite dishes that local people had put on rooftops to help them receive reports of the award ceremony from Voice Of America.

Free Tibet Campaign said:

"The determination of Tibetans in Lhasa and Amdo to celebrate the US Government's award to the Dalai Lama demonstrates clearly that, after 57 years of occupation, the Chinese Government has failed completely to win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people who still see the Dalai Lama as their legitimate leader. The severity of the crackdown on Tibetans' peaceful celebrations of the award is a powerful reminder that China's rule in Tibet remains highly repressive, whatever China may claim about harmony in Tibet in the run up to the Olympics."