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Tibet: Authorities Defied As Tibetans Promote Cultural Security

August 10, 2011

Defying orders from Chinese authorities, more than 5,000 Tibetan monks,
nuns, and laypeople gathered last week at a monastery in southwestern
Sichuan province for talks to promote Tibetan cultural values and national
unity, a Tibetan source living in India said.

The gathering—the fourth in a series of annual regional meetings—ran from
July 15-24 [2011] and was held at Lithang Gonchen, the main monastery of
Lithang county, in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous

Chinese authorities had at first attempted to limit the numbers of those
attending, but finally declined to interfere, though security forces
remained camped nearby throughout the event,  said Atruk Tseten, a member
of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies in Tibet’s India-based exile

Along with religious discussions, participants heard talks relating to
social and cultural issues, including the importance of preserving the
Tibetan language and the unity of Tibetans living in Tibet’s traditional
three provinces of U-Tsang, Kham, and Amdo—all now ruled by China.

“This had a great impact on the younger Tibetans attending, and helped to
uphold their identity as Tibetans,” Atruk Tseten said, citing information
gathered from local officials and participants in the meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, monastery officials instructed Tibetan
laypeople attending to speak only in Tibetan and to wear traditional
Tibetan dress, and levied fines on those heard using Chinese words in

Meeting organizers also discouraged civilian officials in the Lithang
county seat from entering the monastery grounds, saying, ‘We will be doing
some things you won’t like,’ Atruk Tseten said.

‘And if you do come, wear proper Tibetan clothing, and speak only in
Tibetan or keep quiet,’ Tseten said the officials were told.

Tseten noted that Lithang Gonchen, the monastery hosting this year’s
meeting, had sent invitations to over 100 other monasteries—both in Kardze
and in neighboring prefectures—to take part, and that from 40 to 50 of
these had sent participants.

Told by Chinese authorities that “no more than 1,000” Tibetans would be
allowed to gather, Tseten said, Lithang monastery organizers replied that
the invitations had already been sent and that no one would be turned

And though authorities sought to prevent participation by monks from
restive Kirti monastery, also in Kardze, a delegation from that monastery
also attended, Tseten said.

Kirti, the scene of a self-immolation protest against Chinese rule and the
forced removal by authorities of about 300 monks earlier this year, is
facing an ongoing “patriotic education campaign” by Chinese security
forces, according to India-based monks Losang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering.

“The monastery is still occupied and under surveillance by police, army,
and special police forces inside and out, restricting all activity and
movement of the monks,” Yeshe and Tsering said.

“Kirti monk Donyo Dorje, 34, has been sentenced to three years in prison
and is now in the Mianyang prison near Chengdu, Sichuan,” they said.

“Three other youths were sentenced and are imprisoned at Mianyang, but
their names and other details about them are not known,” Yeshe and Tsering

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