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Tibetan Monks Still Held in Qinghai

September 1, 2008

Months after widespread Tibetan protests against Chinese rule,
hundreds of monks are detained in Qinghai.
Radio Free Asia (RFA)
August 29, 2008

KATHMANDU -- Hundreds of Tibetan monks detained after widespread
protests against Chinese rule earlier this year were deported from
the Tibetan capital Lhasa to remote Qinghai province, where they
remain in custody, according to Tibetan sources.

Monks from two major Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Sera and Drepung,
both in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), may have been targeted
because they were seen as playing a leading role in the
demonstrations, the sources said.

Many came to study at the two monasteries near Lhasa from remote
areas in eastern Tibet where the Kham and Amdo dialects are spoken.

A smaller group of monks was removed from another monastery, Ganden,
and taken into detention with the others, the sources said, speaking
on condition of anonymity.

Unrest erupted in Lhasa on March 14 after four days of peaceful
protests, turning into a day of riots targeting Han Chinese residents
and businesses. China reacted by sending in a large force of
paramilitary People's Armed Police to quell the unrest, sealing off
the TAR and Tibetan-populated regions of China from contact with the
outside world.

Exiled Tibetan leaders say 203 people died in the violence that
followed, while Beijing says 22 people died, only one of them Tibetan.

Train from Lhasa

According to an authoritative source who spoke on condition of
anonymity, 675 Tibetan monks from the three targeted monasteries were
put on a train from Lhasa on April 25.

"Among those 675 monks, 405 were from Drepung, 205 were from Sera,
and eight were from Ganden," the source said. The remaining 57 monks
from outlying areas were said to have been taken from smaller Lhasa

"They were transported to a military detention center in Golmud" in
the Haixi [in Tibetan, Tsonub] Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous
Prefecture in Qinghai, the source said.

"All the monks who came originally from the Qinghai region were
[then] deported to their respective towns. They are still detained
there in their hometown prisons or detention centers."

They were escorted home from Golmud by officials from the Qinghai
United Front and Religious Affairs Bureau, according to the source.

Monks who came originally from monasteries in the still-troubled
region of Kham in Sichuan province are still being held in Golmud,
however, the source said. The number of those still in detention
cannot be independently confirmed.

Three groups

The monks were rounded up in three groups, the source said.

"On April 10 in the afternoon, security forces detained 550 monks
from Drepung monastery, took them to the Nyethang Military School,
and detained them on the school campus."

"Then, on the night of April 14, a huge contingent of Chinese
security forces arrived at Sera monastery and took away about 400
monks and detained them at a military prison in Tsal Gungthang,"
about 20 kms (12 miles) east of Lhasa, the source said.

"On April 17, a group of monks from Ganden was also rounded up and
detained somewhere in Lhasa," the source added.

All those detained were reported to have suffered harsh treatment,
including beatings, while in prison.

"Twenty-four monks from Drepung and Sera monasteries remain in
detention at the Nationalities Middle School in the Marpa subdivision
of Rebgong in Qinghai province, where they have been held since July
25" after being moved from Lhasa in April, the source said.

Held in a house

Another source with contacts in the region said that a small group of
monks from monasteries in Sogpo county in the Malho [in Chinese,
Huangnan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai had been studying
in Lhasa monasteries at the time of the unrest.

"Recently, they were found detained in a house close to the Sogpo
county center," he said. "They had not been put into prisons but were
under some kind of house arrest. Later, we learned that they had been
taken into detention in Golmud in April."

"They are not allowed to leave, but their family members and
relatives can see them at the house where they are being held."

"There were about 30 to 40 monks studying in Lhasa who had come from
different monasteries in Gepasumdo [in Chinese, Tongde] county" in
the Tsolho [in Chinese, Hainan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in
Qinghai, the source said.

"There were 20 monks from Tsang monastery alone who were studying at
Sera. We were told that all of them were detained."

Brother held

A Tibetan woman living in Rebgong [in Chinese, Tongren] county in the
Malho Prefecture said she had learned that her brother, a monk
studying in Lhasa, had been taken to the Golmud City Detention Center.

"As you know, he was from Kirti monastery in Aba [in Tibetan, Ngaba]
Prefecture [in Sichuan], but was at Sera monastery in Lhasa at the
time of the March protests," she said. "We couldn't trace him for a long time."

Lhasa monasteries generally take in many monks from outlying areas,
including Qinghai province. "That's always been the case,
historically," Tibet expert Robbie Barnett, based at Columbia
University in New York, said.

These monasteries "have colleges that are specifically designed, and
have been for centuries, to accommodate people from those areas," he
added. Efforts beginning in 1994 to stop this practice have largely
proven unsuccessful, Barnett said.

Barnett cited reports that the Lhasa protests that began March 10
comprised monks from the Amdo Tibetan area in Qinghai province.

"Some people have said that this was quite definitely the case. And
some people have said that this was also true of the Sera and Drepung
[demonstrations] on the other two days," he said, but added:

"I don't know how strong the evidence is for that."

Contacted by Radio Free Asia, officials at the Sera Monastery
Management Committee hung up the phone, while officials at the
Drepung Monastery Management Committee refused to speak to RFA reporters.

Officials at the Huangnan Prefecture Public Security Bureau denied
knowledge of any monks being held at the Nationalities Middle School
in Rebgong.

Original reporting by RFA's Tibetan service. Translations by Karma
Dorjee. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written and produced
in English by Sarah Jackson-Han. Edited by Luisetta Mudie and Richard Finney.

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