DHARAMSHALA: The Chinese government has arrested four Tibetan monks for their alleged role in a protest in Sog Dzong region in Nagchu prefecture in eastern Tibet. Nagchu prefecture has become a focal point of Tibetans’ protest against the Chinese government’s repressive policies since last October.
The four monks – Tsultrim Pelsang, 20, Lobsang Yeshi, 15, Kelsang Dorjee, 23, Kelsang Jampa, 22 – belong to Dowa Shartsa monastery at Trido village. The police took them into custody on 2 February for their alleged role in “distributing pamphlets for Tibetan independence, destroying government-issued sign boards and pelting stones at rooms where work teams were staying at the monastery.” Sources say they were taken to Sog Dzong, but their whereabouts and well-being remain unknown. Dowa Shartsa monastery, a Gelug monastery to which the four monks belong, was built by Shang Shung Choewangdak in 1422. It suffered destruction during the complete invasion of Tibet by the Chinese communist government in 1959.
The Tibetan areas in Nagchu prefecture, particularly Driru county, became a focal point of protests against the Chinese government’s repressive policies.
The Chinese government brutally crushed the protest against its measures forcing Tibetans to undergo patriotic re-education and hoist Chinese flags over their homes ahead of its National Day on 1 October last year. The security forces opened fired at peaceful Tibetan protesters who were demanding the release of a fellow Tibetan in Dathang township in Driru county on 6 October. The Tibetans gathered in front of the government office to demand the release of Dorje Draktsel, a Tibetan who was arrested from Nagchu township, apparently for his persistent advocacy of freedom and truth on the issue of Tibet. The police firing left four Tibetans dead and over 60 Tibetans injured. Phone and internet lines were cut off following the incident.
The police firing on Tibetans drew strong condemnation from Amnesty International, a prominent human rights group. “It is outrageous for the police to start firing on a peaceful gathering. This latest incident shows that the Chinese authorities have done nothing to rein in excessive use of force by their security forces or to increase respect for Tibetans’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” Corinna-Barbara Francis, Amnesty International’s China Researcher, said in a statement on 9 October.
“Across the Tibetan region the situation remains tense, the Chinese authorities are doing nothing to improve it by continuing to deny Tibetans their most basic human rights. The daily harassment and humiliating treatment have to end,” said Francis.
Since then, a huge number of Chinese officials and security forces have been deployed across the region to enforce the measures, which include forcing Tibetans to swear allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party and denounce their most revered spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Media reports say thousands of Tibetans have been arbitrarily arrested since protest erupted against the Chinese government’s repressive measures, which local Tibetans described similar to those imposed during the disastrous Cultural Revolution. The Tibetans in Driru are being subjected to gross human rights abuses such as arbitrary detention, torture, unlawful imprisonment and enforced disappearance, human rights groups say. The Chinese authorities conduct frequent raid at homes and force Tibetans to undergo 24-hour political indoctrination.