DHARAMSHALA: Following two successive self-immolation incidents in neighbouring Rebgong on 16 and 17 March, thousands of Tibetans took to the street in Sogdzong in northeastern Tibet’s Malho region to protest against the Chinese government.
Around 2,000 Tibetans led by monks from the Tsang monastery held peaceful protest in Malho on 18 March, shouting slogans for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.
After about an hour of protest, armed police and paramilitary forces arrived and arrested 17 Tibetans for allegedly instigating the protest.
Eyewitnesses said other protesters went to the police station to demand their release. They broke the main gate of the police station and called for more protests if the arrested Tibetans are not released. Finally at around 5 pm, the 17 Tibetans were released. But the local Tibetans fear that they might be rearrested.
The region is now under heavy military lockdown.
Following the incident two vehicles carrying around 70 monks from Tsang monastery arrived at Sogdzong. But they were forcibly blocked by the police and security forces.
Though schools in Sogdzong usually close at 5:00 pm, but on that day students were held till 8:30 pm.
A large number of military convoys carrying continue to arrive in the region.
The main Sogdzong town and the surrounding roads are occupied by police and security forces.
Visitors flock at Rongbo Monastery to meet critically injured monk
Tibetans from different parts of Rebgong, including representatives of village and town leaders, have been visiting the local Rongbo monastery to express their solidarity with Jamyang Palden, who was critically injured after setting himself alight. The monk is being treated by two local Tibetan doctors.
A group of government officials from Qinghai Province have arrived at Rongbo monastery. The relatives have been warned by the authorities that they should handover the injured monk to the Chinese government. But local Tibetans are keeping strict vigil throughout the day and night to protect the injured monk.
Tibetans Mourn Sonam Dhargyal’s Death
Similarly, streams of Tibetans from across Rebgong have been offering their condolences to the family members of Sonam Dhargyal, a 44-year-old farmer, who died of self-immolation on 17 March. The visitors include representatives of village and town leaders. Many Tibetans from Chentsa, Nangra and other areas send their condolence messages written on large banners. Tibetans from Rebgong Gomar area offer their solidarity in the form of monetary contribution.