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Tibetan Monks in Critical Condition After Slitting Wrists as Anti-China Protests Mount

March 14, 2008

Radio Free Asia

KATHMANDU, March 13, (RFA) —Two Tibetan Buddhist monks are in critical
condition after slitting their wrists amid mounting anti-Chinese
protests in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Authoritative sources told RFA's Tibetan service on Thursday that two
monks from Drepung monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa attempted
suicide and were hospitalized in critical condition. No further
details were immediately available.

Monks at another major Lhasa monastery have meanwhile launched a
hunger strike aimed at pressuring the Chinese authorities as protests
against China's heavy-handed presence in the region spread to other
Tibetan Buddhist convents and monasteries, according to sources who
declined to be identified.

"The monks in Sera monastery are observing a hunger strike inside the
premises of Sera," one source said. "They vowed not to eat and sleep
unless their demands are met." The monks are demanding the withdrawal
of paramilitary People's Armed Police (PAP) forces from the monastery
compound and the release of monks detained during an earlier protest
on March 10, the source said.

Other sources, all of whom declined to be identified, reported
additional protests at Reting monastery, north of Lhasa, and at Gaden
monastery. Authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region have also warned

Tibetans employed as civil servants to stay away from monasteries and convents.

On Tuesday, armed Chinese police fired tear-gas to disperse a crowd of
several hundred protesting monks near Lhasa. The protests began March
10 when hundreds of monks taged a rare demonstration on the 49th
anniversary of a 1959 uprising crushed by the Chinese People's
Liberation Army. The Dalai Lama, now 72, subsequently fled into exile
in northern India.

"There were probably a couple of thousand armed police, PSB personnel,
wearing different uniforms. Police fired tear-gas into the crowd," one
witness told RFA's Tibetan service. PSB denotes the China's Public
Security Bureau.

Lhasa neighborhood committees have mobilized to inspect every
household in predominantly Tibetan areas of the city, searching for
unregistered monks or nuns sheltering illicitly in private homes,
sources told RFA's Tibetan service.

Monks in two more monasteries in Qinghai province—Lutsang monastery in
Mangra (in Chinese, Guinan) county, and Ditsa monastery in Bayan (in
Chinese, Hualong) county—also staged protests Monday, sources said.
Armed police surrounded Ditsa monastery during the protest but neither
intervened nor detained anyone there, the sources said.

Tensions have been escalating in recent years in traditionally Tibetan
areas of what is now western China, with Chinese authorities taking a
tougher line against what they regard as ethnic "splittism," or
resistance to Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama is regarded by China as a dangerous figure seeking
independence for his homeland, although he says he wants only autonomy
and for Chinese repression of Tibetans to end.
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