Saturday, March 29, 2008
RAIDS, ARRESTS, EXPULSIONS AS FOREIGN ENVOYS VISIT
oreign diplomats from 15 embassies including US, Britain, France, Japan and Canada flew into Lhasa last night demanding unfettered access on a hastily-arranged one day tour. As of this writing they are preparing to return to Beijing. One diplomat told AFP the visit was a good first step but does not go far enough to meet their requests for access, noting that it has been "a highly-managed visit."
Upon arrival to Lhasa Friday evening, the diplomats met with the chairman of Tibet's government Qiangba Puncog, visited wounded paramilitary police in hospital and chatted with ordinary Tibetans, he said.It was actually their Thursday protest -- Thursday morning over here, Wednesday in the western hemisphere only.
On Saturday morning, the diplomats visited the Jokhang Temple, one of Tibetan Buddhism's most sacred shrines, where monks converged on a tightly government-managed foreign media tour Wednesday and denounced China's rule of Tibet, he added.
"The chairman of Tibet reassured them (diplomats) that the monks would not be punished" for their Wednesday protest, the diplomat said.
Also on Friday, more than 100 monks of the Ngaba Kirti monastery (Ngaba is the site of one of the early massacres by security forces on March 15, which killed at least 23, including schoolchildren) were arrested during a raid in the afternoon. PAP and PSB forces stormed the monastery around noon and confined all monks to their rooms. This was followed by a raid of each room, as officers ransacked the places looking for portraits of Dalai Lama or anything else incriminating. Are they imitating Burma, or was Burma imitating them? Birds of a feather.
At around 5:00 PM (Beijing Standard Time) at least a hundred monks were known to have been forcibly taken away by the armed forces to Ngaba County PSB Detention Centre after the raid. The current atmosphere inside the Kirti Monastery is known to be very tense and volatile.The latest update on developments via the exile Tibetan government has reports from Drango county (Ch: Luhuo) Kham, Kardze "TAP" (Ch: Sichuan) that the authorities "have been making arrests at a very alarming rate." Postering campaigns are reported in Nyarong county, Kardze and a number of other public actions in the eastern region.
According to the latest information from Tibet, sandbag barricades were erected by People's Armed Police (PAP) around the Kirti Monastery and surroundings area to curb the fresh outbreak of protest by the local residents of Ngaba County.
International Campaign for Tibet has begun collating these events of the past three weeks, and says that as of Thursday, protests have occurred in 42 counties plus Chengdu City (capital of Sichuan), Lanzhou City (capital of Gansu) and Beijing. Several counties have had protests in multiple locations. That would conform with Professor Barnett's figure of around 50 protests altogether as of March 27. About three quarters of protests have been outside "Tibetan Autonomous Region" (TAR), although information from within TAR may be unavailable. We know the Tashi Lhunpo monks in Shigatse (west of Lhasa in the TAR) managed a demonstration on Thursday, after days of attempts to do so were repeatedly turned back by security forces.
The ICT website also has more details of ongoing raids and arrests, the sealing up of the major monasteries around Lhasa, where the monks are already starving (one has died), and reports of the expulsion of large numbers of Tibetans from their capital.
Reliable reports from the city indicate that the water has been cut off at Ganden, Sera and Drepung, and monks are running out of food. Sources said that local people are not allowed to take food in for the monks, and one Tibetan source said that monks who tried to leave Sera were forced to go back after they had guns pointed to their heads.Searches are being made house to house by soldiers and armed police in every Tibetan neighbourhood. In these raids, officials are searching for images of Dalai Lama, and some people are seen being taken away at gunpoint.
"Often Tibetans are taken away in the middle of the night," the source told ICT after leaving Lhasa. "They are definitely taking people who they know have studied in India, including those who learnt English at exile schools. I saw truckloads of Tibetans being taken away. Friends watched guns being held to the head of Tibetans who were taken into custody."Other sources describe large numbers of Tibetans being herded into trucks, or forced to board the train to be taken away from Lhasa.
The source told ICT, "The eyewitness reported seeing large numbers of monks in the group, and said that many were not wearing shoes. The reports of the removal of prisoners from Lhasa are chilling for many older Tibetans, who remember the purges after 1959 and beyond when so many Tibetans were taken to labor camps and prisons in Gansu and Qinghai. Some of them were never heard of again. There are many families now in the situation of not knowing where their relatives are, or how long they will be in prison."Families in Amdo who have relatives in exile are being warned of serious repercussions if these relatives take part in demonstrations abroad.
A UN spokesman reportedly said the children, aged between 15 and 18, and dressed in school uniform scaled the wall carrying a small home-made sign that read "Free Tibet" and asking for the United Nations to help their cause.Police entered the compound and asked the protesting students to be handed over. UN officials refused.
John Brittain, a spokesman for the United Nations, reportedly described the teenagers as polite intruders who sat on the grass inside the compound, were asked to write their grievances for United Nations officials.Way to go UN officials. Deep Wai
The children were treated to lunch instead by the UN officials. They were served with momos (Tibetan steamed dumplings).
Mr. Brittain said agency officials would make sure they all were escorted home safely.
A group of elderly Tibetans on a reserved bus heading to a prayer session at Bouda Jorpati in Kathmandu were also intercepted by police. Not protesting, just a bunch of old folks going for religious services, and getting harassed just for being Tibetan.
One elderly Tibetan Lobsang Chokdup said: "I went to Bouda myself. While returning from Bouda this evening, 25 of us elderly came in a reserved bus. Our bus was stopped at Bouda Police Station for about 15 minutes. When we asked for reason, the Police said that they were providing security to us. A Police vehicle escorted our bus and handed us over to Chabahil Police Station. We were again stopped for about 10 minutes. Then we were escorted to Chakrapath Police Station and then to the Balaju Police Station and stopped us again for about 10 minutes. We could not take it any longer, so we all got off the bus and went home ourselves".Dalai Lama was joined by leaders of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Jain faiths in Delhi today, to pray for those killed and injured in Tibet. The service was held at Gandhi's cremation place, Raj Ghat, on the bank of the sacred Ganges. No intervention by security forces was reported.
But isn't it ridiculous behaviour from Nepali authorities? Treating a group of elders in that way? It's getting to be a tiresome refrain from the Nepalis, who seem only too ready to do whatever China orders them to do. They've now announced that Nepal will be deploying its soldiers on Mount Everest to guard against any pro-Tibetan demonstrations for China's torch relay to the top, and will ensure that its giant northern neighbour does not accidentally become upset.