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China Steps Up Crackdown in Tibet

April 20, 2008

Radio Free Asia
2008.04.17

KATHMANDU—China is intensifying its crackdown on Tibet after the largest
anti-Chinese protests there in almost 50 years. But many monks have
refused to fly the Chinese flag on monastery roofs, sources in China and
India say.

In addition to reports from remote Qinghai province this week that
authorities have arrested Tibetan feminist and writer Jamyang Kyi,
Tibetans say five other Qinghai Tibetan community leaders are in custody
as well. All are residents of Machen [in Chinese Maqin] county in Golok
[Golog] prefecture, and all are now being held in the provincial
capital, Xining, sources said.

The five are Golog Dape, a popular comedian, leader of the Gangchen
performance group, and animal rights activist; Dolma Kyi, a singer,
activist, and founder of the folk-music company Gangchen Metok; Palchen
Kyab, principal of the private Mayul Dargye school, founded with
donations from Tibetan nomads; Lhundrup, Mayul Dargye’s assistant
principal; and Sonam Dorje, a teacher.

Golok prefecture State Security Bureau officers took the five into
custody March 31 and moved them to Xining, sources said. No information
on charges against them was available. “No relatives have been allowed
to visit them,” one source in Qinghai said.

An official at the Golok prefecture Public Security Bureau refused to
comment and referred questions to her superior, who also refused to
comment and hung up.

Also in Qinghai, according to the exile Tibetan Centre for Human Rights
and Democracy, 100 people, including monks from the Rong Gonchen
monastery, were arrested April 17 in Rebkong [Tongren Xian] county.

A hotel employee told RFA’s Cantonese service that tourists were now
barred from visiting the Rong Gonchen temple. “There are some armed
police there,” a local religious affairs official said.

“There aren’t many armed police, but there are many police there. No one
can go to the monastery now. Other monasteries are o.k., though,” the
official said. County officials and police declined to comment.
Sichuan search

In Sichuan province, which like Qinghai comprises a large Tibetan
population, an authoritative source said security officers this week
searched Palyul monastery in Kardze [Ganzi] prefecture looking for
evidence of anti-Chinese activities.

“Today a group of police including some Tibetans came to the monastery
and searched everywhere. They found a photo of the Dalai Lama and took
it away,” one witness said April 16.

“The Chinese authorities including county authorities insisted that the
monastery fly the Chinese national flag on top of the main temple. The
monastery did not accept it,” the source said.

Traditionally, only Buddhist or Dharma flags fly atop monasteries in Tibet.

At an April 12 meeting in Dartsedo [Kangding], also in Kardze, Chinese
authorities instructed a gathering of monks “to fly the Chinese national
flag on every Tibetan Buddhist monastery under Kardze prefecture. There
are more than 200 monasteries,” Lobsang Gyaltsen, a monk at Drepung
monastery in India, said, citing monks who attended the Dartsedo meeting.

“All Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in the area were told to
participate in the campaign. The monks were told to sign criticisms of
the exile Tibetan government, the Dalai Lama, and the protests in Lhasa
that hurt China,” he said.

“Above all, the monasteries were told to fly the Chinese five-starred
flag over their monasteries, and then the monks and nuns should pledge
under the flag to applaud China, hold the Dalai Lama and the exile
government responsible for the unrest in different parts of Tibetan
areas, and recognize the Dalai Lama as a separatist,” he said. Many of
the monks refused, he said.

An official at the Kardze religious affairs office wouldn’t directly
confirm the order to raise Chinese flags over monasteries. But the
official, speaking to RFA’s Cantonese service, said, “It’s normal that
we hoist Chinese flags on the land of mainland China.”

Several Chinese residents, however, said all temples in Kardze were now
flying Chinese flags. “There are national flags everywhere,” one
resident told RFA’s Mandarin service.

Authorities at the Minority and Religious Affairs Committee in Lhasa
meanwhile declined to comment “Where did you get that information? Do
not contact us for such things,” one official said.

Also in Kardze, abbots and reincarnate lamas from 43 monasteries in
Sershul [Shiqu] county were summoned to the county religious affairs
office March 26 and given the same instructions, Lobsang Gyaltsen said.

Monks at Kham Draggo [Luhuo] monastery in Kardze were also told to
repent and apologize for their involvement in the anti-China protests
and to fly the Chinese flag, but they refused.

Another source said armed police were sent to Kardze’s Nyagrong
[Xinlong] town after residents refused to condemn the Dalai Lama. Monks
at Shiwa monastery in Nyagrong have begun flying Chinese flags.
Tibet Autonomous Region

Three of 62 monasteries in Jomda (Jiangda), in Chamdo [Changdu]
prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), have been pressed into
“re-education campaigns” aimed at eliciting condemnations of the Dalai
Lama, another source said.

Officials and police arrived at Dzigar monastery, also in Chamdo, on
April 11, the source said, adding that monks at Wara and Sungda
monasteries have refused to take part. Whether they have suffered any
consequences was unclear.
Riots began in Lhasa

Beijing says about 19 people were killed in rioting that began in Lhasa
in mid-March but spread to other Tibetan areas as well. Tibetan sources
say scores of people were killed when Chinese paramilitary and police
opened fire on crowds of demonstrators.

Chinese authorities have blamed the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled leader,
for instigating the protests and fomenting a Tibetan independence
movement. The Dalai Lama rejects the accusation, saying he wants only
autonomy and human rights for Tibetans.

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan, Mandarin, and Cantonese services.
Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Mandarin service director:
Jennifer Chou. Cantonese service director: Shiny Li. Translation by
Karma Dorjee, Shiny Li, and Jiayuan. Written and produced in English by
Sarah Jackson-Han.
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