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Tibetan monks commit “suicide,” victims of pre-Olympic repression

January 21, 2008

Asia News[Friday, January 18, 2008 18:31]
Nirmala Carvalho

Urgen Tenzin, executive director of the Tibetan Center for Human Rights
and Democracy, tells AsiaNews that the death of Gyaltsen Tsepa Lobsang
and Yangpa Locho is full of unanswered questions, part of an
increasingly nasty repression campaign waged by Beijing ahead of this
summer’s Olympic Games.

Dharamsala, January 18: The suicide over the last few months of two
elderly and well-respected Tibetan monks “under mysterious circumstances
must be seen against a background of increasing pressure by Chinese
authorities on Tibetans. Before the Olympics the government is in fact
trying to rid itself of all those social elements who might cause
problems,” said Urgen Tenzin, executive director of the Tibetan Center
for Human Rights and Democracy.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Tenzin said that the two monks—Gyaltsen Tsepa
Lobsang and Yangpa Locho, both 71-year-old—were found hanged in
Tashilhunpo Monastery, the official seat of the Panchen Lama and scene
of one of the most violent anti-Chinese demonstrations ever seen in Tibet.

According to some local lamas, the government and the monastery’s abbots
had always humiliated and ostracised the two monks, guilty in their eyes
of training those who instigated the mass anti-Chinese revolt of he
mid-nineties, but especially blamed for recognising the 11th Panchen
Lama, who was later seized by Communist authorities.

Furthermore, the monks (at least those still alive) who recognised the
Panchen Lama are consulted on recognising the new Dalai Lama. Both
suicide victims were thus on the list of those who would have searched
for the reincarnation of the current Tibetan leader, seen by Beijing as
a “secessionist.”

According to Tenzin, “the lack of religious freedom and the tight
restrictions imposed by the Chinese government on how Tibetan Buddhism
is practiced tend to drive many monks to desperation. Some end up take
desperate measures. However, in this particular case we are not sure
that the two monks actually took their own lives. They did not talk
about it to anyone and did not leave any message.”

China’s attitude is “getting worse by the day as the Beijing Olympics
approach. The central authorities have given strict instructions to
Communist leaders in Tibet, who use violence and whatever means
necessary to maintain security and impose the so-called social harmony.
But this does nothing more than exacerbate the situation because if our
monks can come so close to desperation, the crisis in Tibet’s population
is not far off.”
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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