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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Rongpo Monastery is a Criminal, Declares China

August 1, 2010

Sangay Dorjee and Ben Dunant
The Tibet Post International
July 24, 2010

Dharamshala -- April this year, a group of
Chinese officials visited Rongpo monastery of Sog
county, Nagchu region, eastern Tibet to 'educate'
the monks on the virtues of loving one's religion
and, more importantly, one's government - for an
entire month. Later, on 17th May, communications
in the monastery were cut, Mr Ngawang Tharpa told The Tibet Post International.

Recently Dawa Rinpoche was arrested in the
Tibetan capital Lhasa; he was accused of
recognising the 5th reincarnation of Rongpo
Choeje, and later contacting the Dalai Lama about
the discovery. Simultaneously three other monks
were arrested: Dongpo, Ngawang Jangchup and
Ngawang Thokme - alongside a layman, Tashi
Dhondup. One by one there were released, except
Ngawang Thokme (35 years old), who was found to
have kept photographs of His Holiness the Dalai
Lama in his dormitory, and was sentenced for two years.

Around that time 50 Chinese officials and 150
soldiers came to the monastery and interrogated
the monks: they were all commanded to state their
opposition to both the His Holiness the Dalai
Lama and the Dawa Rinpoche. And from that day,
any further communication with the Dawa Rinpoche
was forbidden, who was furthermore de-recognised
as a lama - a prohibition that would extend to
any reincarnations. Each monk had to sign a
written declaration condemning the Dawa Rinpoche.
During the process, one monk, Jampa, fell
unconscious. Another monastery official,
politically appointed, by the name of Tashi
Tensang, became mentally unwell and lost his
position in the monastery, having to return to his family home.

The monastery was forced to temporarily close,
due to ongoing disputes between monks and Chinese
officials. Later a monk called Nagwang Gyatso, at
17 years of age, committed suicide on 20th May,
on account of the stresses of the events so far
described. He was said to have been well
respected among his immediate community. Before
his death he wrote a letter - swiftly stolen by
the Chinese authorities; the contents are so far
unknown. The Chinese furthermore denied that he
committed suicide, claiming illness instead - and
anyone caught uttering the word 'suicide' was to be arrested.

Dawa Rinpoche was released after a month, but was
disallowed from taking up any further monastic
positions; he was forbidden from entering any
monastery, and had to stay put firmly within the
vicinity of his home town; and he was prohibited
from contacting any of his former monk
colleagues. He is currently 75 years old and his
health is failing. The Chinese authorities have
placed him under permanent surveillance; his
activities are still closely monitored.

Rongpo monastery has since re-opened and Ngawang
Lobsang and 17 other monks have demanded from the
Chinese government that contact be permitted
between them and the Dawa Rinpoche, and that they
be allowed to express their support for both him
and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. All demands were
refused, and so they left the monastery on 17th
July. Weekly they have to report to state
authorities, and for two years they are forbidden
from travelling long distances. Their future, and
that of the 'criminal' monastery of Rongpo, remains uncertain.
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