Agam's Gecko
Friday, April 18, 2008
Tongkhor Monastery
Tongkhor Monastery in Kardze prefecture, Kham (Ch: Sichuan) is facing possible destruction by Chinese authorities.
Photo: International Campaign for Tibet

onastery raids by the Chinese security forces and re-education sessions by "work teams" continue to be met with resistance by Tibetan monks, nuns and laypeople across the Tibetan plateau. Violent responses against the steadfast Tibetans also continue to be reported.

Reuters reports that armed police raided Rong Gonchen Monastery monastery on Thursday, detaining hundreds of monks and locals.
The police seized audiovisual disks and pictures of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the source, who has wide contacts among Tibetans, quoted relatives of the monks as saying.

They took away four fifths of the monastery's inhabitants -- around 200 people -- and dozens more lay locals, some of whom had tried to prevent police from detaining the monks.
However, TCHRD has also received reports of the arrests, which it says took place at the Rebkong County market. There may be two incidents here. Around two dozen monks from Rong Gonchen monastery held a peaceful demonstration yesterday morning at the market, calling for the release of three monks detained last weekend for participating in a peace procession on March 16 or 17. The demonstrating monks were all arrested.
When news of the monks' arrest reached Rong Gonchen Monastery, 80 monks marched to the County market and called for the release of the 22 monks arrested this morning. As the ordinary people in the market also joined the monks in their demonstration, the group became large and very loud.

Consequently additional contingents of security forces arrived at the County market to quell the demonstrators. When the situation became extremely tense, former chief of Rong Gonchen Monastery, 80-year-old Alak Khasutsang, arrived at the market to intervene and try to diffuse the tension between the demonstrators and the security forces. However, the Chinese security forces started to severely beat every one at the scene irrespective of age or status. Over 80 Tibetans, including monks and lay people, were arrested and taken away to the County Public Security Bureau Detention Centre.
The CTA also received reports on the incident in time for yesterday's bulletin.
Some local people consisting of both young and old people also joined the protest. However a former abbot Alag Khatso-tsang, aged 80, from Rongpo Monastery, who tried to calm down the situation was badly beaten and injured by the Chinese army. Furthermore, about 140 people including the monks and lay people alike were detained, and the monastery has been kept under tight vigilance and no one is allowed to move in or out of the monastery.
What kind of man would beat an 80 year old monk?

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, a large protest took place at Phenpo Lhundup county in Lhasa municipality, resulting in about 250 arrests. A few badly beaten and injured people were released. Since the beginning of April, nearly all the nuns of Shar Bhumpa nunnery in Lhasa have been arrested, leaving only seven of the 60 nuns who had studied there. One of the nuns, Tsering Lhathog was beaten and tortured, suffering a serious head injury before her release to Jang Ga-shang Hospital.

In Dzoge County, Kham (Ngaba "TAP", Ch: Sichuan prov.), the Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastic School was closed by the authorities on April 8, because of the participation of a number of the students in a protest on March 15 at Dzoge County headquarters. The students, both novice monks and children from the area have all been sent home.
Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastic School caters to educating primarily novice monks below 18 years of age and children from surrounding nomadic areas, on Tibetan language, literature and Buddhist philosophy. At the time of its closure, the school housed 504 novice monks and lay children from neighboring areas. Almost all of its students were from poor rural and nomadic areas where there is no education facility. The monastic school was a boon for the poor farmers and nomads who subsist on daily earnings and could not provide for their children's education.
Radio Free Asia reports that in addition to the Tibetan writer and television personality, Jamyang Kyi, who was arrested and taken from her office at Qinghai TV early this month, five other Qinghai (Tib: Amdo) Tibetan community leaders are also now in custody. In yet another impersonation of the Burmese junta, the Chinese authorities have arrested Golog Dape, a popular comedian, Dolma Kyi, a popular singer, and the principal, assistant principal and a teacher of the private Mayul Dargye school. There is no word on the charges, and they are not allowed visitors. The authorities would have no comment.
An official at the Golok prefecture Public Security Bureau refused to comment and referred questions to her superior, who also refused to comment and hung up.
Around the region with RFA, a raid is reported at Palyul monastery in Kardze "TAP" Kham (Ch: Sichuan prov.) this week, where police searched for illicit objects. A photo of Dalai Lama was confiscated. Demands were made.
"The Chinese authorities including county authorities insisted that the monastery fly the Chinese national flag on top of the main temple. The monastery did not accept it," the source said.

Traditionally, only Buddhist or Dharma flags fly atop monasteries in Tibet.
Also in Kardze, another meeting was held on April 12 in Dartsedo (possibly this is the other meeting scheduled after the earlier meeting - on re-education guidance for monastery heads - failed, as reported here yesterday). During this session, monks were also instructed to fly the Chinese national flag over every monastery, according to an exile monk who had spoken to someone at the meeting.
"All Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in the area were told to participate in the campaign. The monks were told to sign criticisms of the exile Tibetan government, the Dalai Lama, and the protests in Lhasa that hurt China," he said.

"Above all, the monasteries were told to fly the Chinese five-starred flag over their monasteries, and then the monks and nuns should pledge under the flag to applaud China, hold the Dalai Lama and the exile government responsible for the unrest in different parts of Tibetan areas, and recognize the Dalai Lama as a separatist," he said. Many of the monks refused, he said.
A number of monasteries in Chamdo, U-tsang ("Tibetan Autonomous Region") have been targeted for re-education, and the monks in at least two of them have refused to participate.

Just days after Labrang monks protested in front of foreign journalists (who were later told the monks would not be punished), the monastery was raided on April 14. ICT has received further reports on this.
According to one source, armed troops are now deployed "in every corner of the monastery" and have searched all of the monks' quarters. In some of the monks' cells, they smashed shrines and tore up images of the Dalai Lama, according to several sources. Details of what is happening in Labrang now are sketchy as the authorities are taking strong measures to prevent communication with the outside world, but it was possible to confirm that a number of monks have been detained and there are serious concerns for their welfare.
ICT has received accounts of the "patriotic" re-education drive in Kham region, especially in Kardze and particularly around the Tongkhor monastery where at least 14 Tibetans were shot dead on April 3 (TCHRD has obtained photos to go with 11 of the 14 victims of the shooting who have so far been identified by name). The aggressive anti-Dalai Lama campaign has produced fears for this year's harvest, as farming has been left unattended in the Cultural Revolutionary atmosphere permeating the region. Authorities have threatened to destroy Tongkor monastery unless the monks returned (many monks and lay people have taken refuge in the mountains).

Violent suppression of peaceful protests in Kardze town took place on March 18, when a lone man shouting slogans was joined by around 100 people.
An eyewitness said: "Extra security forces had arrived in Kardze in previous days to bolster security, and they confronted the protestors. They threatened to shoot unless the protestors dispersed, and after that one section of the crowd broke away and obeyed the order. The protestors remained entirely peaceful, not even a stone was thrown. Police moved in on the remainder, beating them with clubs, and arrested at least 12 of them. They beat people savagely, aiming at the head, and it is possible that one or two may have been killed or mortally wounded on the spot, but no-one knows exactly."
RFA's Tibetan service reported that four people were killed during that suppression. Since then, there has been a heavy troop presence in the town, and the re-education "work" was stepped up. People with children at Tibetan schools in India were ordered to bring them home. A source tells ICT that three monks at a nearby monastery committed suicide rather than denounce their spiritual leader. Kardze county has had more cases of political imprisonment than any other county outside the TAR since 1987.

The sowing season has just begun, but the fields are deserted, said a source from the Tongkhor area. "Except the very old and very young ones, all the monks and all able lay people (farmers) from the surrounding villages have left their homes and gone to places high up in the mountains and forest areas," the source said.
According to two reports received from the region, the authorities issued a warning that they would destroy Tongkor monastery if the monks did not return. The monastery is still surrounded by armed troops and locals are deeply concerned about its preservation. Tongkor monastery contains ancient thangkas and other precious religious artefacts that the monastic and lay community managed to preserve throughout the Cultural Revolution. A Tibetan source with close connections in the area told ICT: "Tongkor Monastery is a famous monastery with a long history. Gold statues of Buddha, Thangkha [Tibetan religious] paintings and other valuables survived the disaster in the 'Cultural Revolution', but we worry very much whether they can survive this disaster now."
If you didn't see it the first time I mentioned it, go and read a wonderful story about the Tongkor Incarnates on Tibeto-logic.

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