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Amdo monks taken for 'study' after peaceful protest

March 17, 2009

ICT report
March 16, 2009

More than a hundred monks who held a peaceful
candlelit vigil on the first day of Tibetan New
Year (February 25) have been taken from their
monastery, Lutsang, in Mangra county (Chinese:
Guinan) in Qinghai (the Tibetan area of Amdo),
for ‘study’. According to a Tibetan source in
exile with connections in the area, around 100
monks were taken from the monastery last week
while a number of the remaining monks have
continued to undergo interrogation, torture and
beatings. The phrase ‘taken for study’ means that
the monks will be taken to a location such as a
military camp or prison where they will undergo
political education classes. Hundreds of monks
from the Lhasa monasteries of Drepung, Sera and
Ganden were ‘taken for study’ to a military camp
in Golmud, Qinghai, from April 2008 for several
months. Their families were not informed of their
whereabouts. Some were also removed from
monasteries in Lhasa in the buildup to the March 10 anniversary this year.

Tension is high in the area, with the same
Tibetan source reporting that there are two or
three police vehicles stationed in the middle of
even the smallest and most remote villages, and
that people are being forbidden from traveling
from one village to another. “I remember exactly
this thing happening during the Cultural
Revolution, being forbidden to travel even to the
next village,” said the source, who grew up in
the area, and whose name is withheld. “It’s
control by terror,” he added. The source added
that according to information from the area,
Tibetan students have had their cell-phones
confiscated by police in an apparent attempt to
stop information about the crackdown reaching the
outside world. Students were told their phones
would be returned “at the end of the month”.

On February 25, the first day of Tibetan New Year
(Losar) Lutsang monks had marched to the
government headquarters in Mangra, where they
asked for the central Chinese government to
"recognize the will of the Tibetan people," and
called for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet,
according to the Tibetan service of Radio Free
Asia. They said that they were holding the
candle-lit vigil in memory of the people killed
during the Chinese authorities' crackdown on the
protests last year, and as a "New Year's gift to
Tibetans inside and outside of Tibet." After half
an hour or so, the monks were persuaded by
Tibetan government and Party officials who had
emerged from the building as well as senior
Tibetans to return to their monastery. However,
police later arrived at the monastery and
demanded that the organizers of the protest
‘surrender’ within 48 hours, and that any
portraits of the Dalai Lama had to be handed over
to the authorities. (ICT report, ‘Authorities
surround monastery; issue 48 hour ultimatum for
organizers to ‘surrender’ after latest protest in

Following the 48-hour ultimatum period police
took away 13 monks for interrogation, who were
beaten in detention before their families were
summoned and told to keep the monks sequestered
at home, according to a Chinese-language blog
posting. On March 2, police again detained 11 of
the 13 monks detained previously, according to
the same source, and police also acquired the
names of around 70 monks who participated in the
march and vigil in a list compiled by the
monastery’s ‘Democratic Management Committee’ a
government-appointed body instituted in monasteries in Tibet.

In the ensuing days, around 120 monks were
interrogated both at the monastery and in other
locations, with many if not most suffering
beatings or torture during the process, according
to the same single source. One monk was
reportedly deafened in one ear as result of beatings.

The blog posting continues: "The authorities have
not said where they are taking the 109 monks and
have not said for how long, saying only that they
are to be given secluded [bishi shut-away style]
thought education, including ‘patriotic
education’ and ‘rule of law education’… When the
109 monks received this information, they calmly
rushed to the temple and presented khatag
[Tibetan white blessing scarves]. In actual fact,
these 109 monks are facing unimaginable
imprisonment, just like the 700 monks from
Drepung, Sera and Ganden last year, who were
detained in a military prison in Golmud for as long as three of four months.”

According to the Chinese authorities' own
figures, around 1200 people remain unaccounted
for following the wave of protests that swept
across the Tibetan plateau from March 10, 2008.
(ICT report: “A Great Mountain Burned by Fire:
China’s Crackdown on Tibet,”

Detaining individuals without informing families
of their whereabouts contravenes notification
procedures under China’s Criminal Law. As a
matter of urgency, ICT is calling for the
government of the PRC to provide unimpeded access
to Tibet, including Tibetan areas of Qinghai, for
UN human rights experts and other independent
observers to investigate the situation in Tibet.
China should also provide unrestricted foreign
media access to Tibet, including the Tibetan
areas outside the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, ICT
India Tel: +91 97 1768 7756
UK Tel: +44 7947 138612
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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