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Tibetan Protest Over Monk

December 8, 2009

2009-12-07
Radio Free Asia

HONG KONG?An unknown number of Tibetan youths have been detained in
China's southwestern Sichuan province after staging a protest to appeal
for the release of a Buddhist monk jailed for alleged links to a series
of bombings, several Tibetan sources said.

The exact number of Tibetans detained on Dec. 5 was unclear, but one
exiled source who has been in contact with witnesses said it could
exceed 150. At police stations in nearby Kangding, Nyakchukha, and
Lithang, repeated phone calls rang unanswered.

"About 60 Tibetans, mostly youths from Othok, went to Nyakchukha county
center and appealed for the release of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche," the exile
source said, citing contact with several witnesses.

"When they reached the county center, security forces assaulted and
detained them. Their motorbikes were smashed and dumped into army
vehicles. When other Tibetans learned about the incident, more Tibetans
arrived from the Golok and Othok areas," he added.

"The Chinese forces put up roadblocks, but many Tibetans climbed hills
and moved towards the county. My sources said there are nearly 500
Tibetans, both male and female.Some said that about 160 were detained."

Another source, speaking from nearby Lithang, said that 60-70 protesters
were being held at a newly built detention center located about four
miles (6.5 kms) from the Nyakchukha county center.

Both Nyakchukha and Lithang are now filled with Chinese security forces,
the source said.

Lithang, home to a major annual horse-racing festival, was the site of
2007 unrest that heralded a massive anti-Chinese Tibetan uprising in
early 2008. At that time, the International Campaign for Tibet said
protesting nomads in Lithang called for the release of Tenzin Delek
Rinpoche.

Trial criticized

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was sentenced to death in December 2002 along with
a relative, Lobsang Dhondup, who was executed almost immediately.
Tibetans are only rarely executed in China for political crimes.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, based at a monastery in nomad-dominated Othok,
was granted a two-year reprieve, then had his sentence commuted to life
in 2005.

In 2004, New York-based Human Rights Watch accused the Chinese
authorities of persecuting Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and said his case
highlighted ongoing strictures placed on Tibetans in China.

Human Rights Watch called for the immediate release of Tenzin Delek
pending a new trial conforming to international standards.

Contact difficult

Since a widespread Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in early 2008,
direct international contact with Tibet has proven far more difficult.

Tibetans themselves can face prosecution for speaking directly with
foreign media, making indirect contact through Tibetans in exile a major
conduit for news about Tibet.

Another exile source, also citing contacts with witnesses, said a group
of Tibetans from Golok and Othok?both Sichuan farming areas?had traveled
to Beijing to petition for Tenzin Delek Rinpoche's release but were
detained and beaten.

"When those who were brought back.to the county center, other local
Tibetans stood up in support of those who were severely beaten," the
source said.

"When the Tibetans rallied to support [them], the authorities brought in
a huge security force and assaulted the Tibetans. I was told that the
place near the county center where they were beaten was stained with
blood," he said.

"A group of Tibetan youths from the Othok area arrived at the county
center on motorbikes. They were also attacked, and the security forces
took away all the motorbikes in two army trucks. Several of them were
detained and loaded in vehicles," he said.

"I was told many Tibetans who could not be detained are being blocked
and surrounded by security force in a valley not far from the County
center."

Original reporting by Lobsang Choephel for RFA's Tibetan service.
Translated from the Tibetan by Karma Dorjee. Edited and produced in
English by Sarah Jackson-Han.
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