Saturday, June 14, 2008
SMALL PROTESTS MET WITH BIG FORCE
mall scale protest demonstrations are still continuing in Tibet more than three months after the uprising began on March 10. These courageous actions are taken by people with the full knowledge that they will be immediately overwhelmed by security forces and beaten up until they are pliable enough to throw into trucks and haul off to the nearest detention centre for interrogation and more serious physical abuse (if they don't require hospitalization first).
Events of this nature are taking place somewhere in the Tibetan areas nearly every day, but the world is not permitted to see or hear. Meanwhile, the Chinese armed forces gain worldwide admiration for their compassion toward earthquake victims, not so very far away from where their comrades are beating nuns to a pulp in the streets.
The Chinese Communist Party government claims these things are not happening, and that Tibetan areas are returning to normal. If the authorities truly believe this, there is no logical reason for their strict ban on reporting from those areas. The exclusion of journalists is enough proof that the Party is lying about the situation, and that their greatest concern is preventing any truth from escaping from this great open-air prison. They do a pretty good job of that, but they can't keep everything to themselves. As long as this situation persists, with no independent reporting allowed, my policy of believing none of what is presented in Chinese state-controlled media, and trusting every account that manages to escape through the CCP's information controls, will continue.
On Wednesday morning (June 11) at around 11 am, an unknown number of Tibetans mounted a peaceful protest in the central market square of Kardze town, the scene of many such incidents in recent weeks and months. The demonstrators raised pro-Tibet freedom slogans and distributed pamphlets calling for freedom, release of political prisoners, and the swift return of their spiritual leader. At least three of them were severely beaten in the street and hauled off to the county detention centre. As always, nothing can be learned of their condition. A 30 year-old mother of two children, Namsey Lhamo, a 32 year-old farmer and father of an infant child, Tenzin Dargyal, and an unidentified monk are now somewhere inside the Chinese security system.
Following these arrests, local party cadres raided Namsey Lhamo's house, smashing the place up and tearing every picture of Dalai Lama they could find. Her brother Pema Gyaltsen was at home and couldn't bear this desecration, so he drew a sword and chased the cadres away. Some time later nearly 200 soldiers showed up to seize Pema Gyaltsen, who had by this time taken refuge in the mountains. The soldiers finished demolishing the house, and left.
Sources confirmed the protest to Radio Free Asia, adding that "Chinese officials are giving a hard time to other members of the family, including the elderly parents and young kids." It's reported that a boy and a monk from Lhoba village also protested in Kardze the same day, and were also beaten before their detention. Another source reports that on June 12, a 20 year-old Tibetan man named Palden Wangyal tied a white prayer scarf around his head and protested in the town centre while holding up the Tibetan national flag. He managed to walk about 2 km. before being detained by police. Some of those arrested in Kardze are being held in detention centres in Nyagrong and Dartsedo counties.
Accounts have reached the Tibetan exile authorities which confirm the several incidents in Drango County, Kardze Prefecture reported here on June 11 -- the very severe beatings of a group of nuns on June 8 (some hospitalized, hundreds arrested) and the brutal beatings of three monks on June 6 which sent them all to hospital in grave condition. The death of Tsewang Drakpa from beating, reported by several sources, has not yet been confirmed.
Following two days of protests in mid-March in Taktse County, Lhasa Municipality, a large number of arrests were made, including monks. Friends or relatives have spent the past three months trying to locate the arrested monks from Sang-ngak Monastery in Dechen Township, but their disappearance remains a mystery. None of the prisons or detention centres are holding them.
The Tibetan authorities have continued efforts to quantify the events of these three months. Demonstrations of Tibetan aspirations have not been restricted to any particular social or age groups; protestors were as young as 11 and as old as 80. In addition to the religious figures -- lamas, tulkus, geshes, monks and nuns -- participants included government officials, artists, teachers, doctors, students, farmers, nomads, business people, and beggars. Some personnel of the Tibetan PSB (Public Security Bureau) have also been punished for their loyalty to Tibet. Accounts from all sources have been cross-checked and tallied, giving these latest figures:
- the number of dead is 209
- the number of injured is more than 1000
- the number of those still detained is more than 5972
- the number of people sentenced is around 40
In a following update, Tibetan exile officials say that their sources reported five protestors arrested in the June 11 incident in Kardze. The account also has Pema, the brother of Namsey Lhamo, at the site of her protest attempting to help her as she was being arrested. Also reported is an incident on June 10 at the Kardze County government office, when two monks peacefully demonstrated and were arrested. Separately, a woman was arrested for allegedly sharing information with the outside world by telephone.
The Tibetan Solidarity Committee notes the recent staged tour for handpicked Chinese language media persons to Lhasa. After their short stay, it was touted in Xinhua and elsewhere that these visiting media outlets would soon have plenty of stories to write up (after their many interviews with pre-approved individuals). Nearly a week later, there have been no such stories from any of the news agencies in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau. The only coverage of their trip has been in Xinhua.
A source to TSC reports that heavy restrictions and surveillance activities by the state have been focusing on the Lhasa and Kardze areas. The magnificent journey of harmony is due to arrive in Lhasa sometime next week (although authorities are still keeping mum on Her Scorchiness' precise itinerary).
Another case of arbitrary killing by Chinese security forces is also provided in the same bulletin. On May 20, 2008 at around 11 am, a village girl dressed in traditional Tibetan clothes was on her way to meet her cousin at the Jokhang Temple. Some Chinese soldiers stopped her at the "firewood storehouse" and for whatever reason some arguments broke out between them. A soldier shot her dead with a "silent gun" (pistol with silencer?). The eyewitness reported that several Tibetans gathered at the place after seeing her dead body and bleeding chest wound. The soldiers dispersed them and took the girl's body away. Nothing is yet known of her identity, except that she came from Lhokha district.
One of the rare dispatches to come out via international wire services was published yesterday by Reuters, reporting from Kanlho Prefecture (which the Chinese call Gannan) in the Chinese Gansu province, which covers a part of the Tibetan Amdo region. Many demonstrations have taken place in the area since March (a few of which involved attacks on police stations during the first days), and now monks are facing a "patriotic test" if they wish to remain as monks. Chinese "work teams" have moved into the monasteries to conduct the re-education sessions designed to break the monks' spirits, and are expected to stay in place until at least after the Totalitarian Olympics are over.
Textbooks for these sessions cover Chinese law, regulations of autonomous regions, the history of "Tibet was always a part of China," and chapters denouncing Dalai Lama and Tibetan freedom. In other words, nothing but pure communist state propaganda.
"We don't believe this, why should we?" said one Tibetan, dressed in the dark clothes of a farmer.The region suffered terribly after the CCP tightened its grip following the failed Lhasa uprising in 1959, with monasteries stripped of valuables and emptied of monks, and widespead starvation resulting from drastic party policies. These things were done by the same state which Tibetans are now being forced into "loving" whether they like it or not. Now monks will be tested on whether they love it sufficiently, and wrong answers will empty the monasteries once again.
"The whole world speaks highly of the Dalai Lama, why doesn't China?"
"They have no choice but to take the test. This is what is called 'not free'," the lay Tibetan said. "We Tibetans have no right to say anything."Most of the more than 2,000 people arrested in Kanlho during March have now been released, provided their families have money to pay. The journalist met some 11 year-old boys who had been detained for three days; the cost of springing them was 3,000 yuan each. It costs at least 5,000 yuan to free a monk after 10 days to 2 months detention, which is more than the average annual income in this area.
Try not to imagine what was done to them behind those closed doors, I dare you. The electric shock batons came out onto the streets this week in Drango County, but normally these are only used behind detention centre walls. Whipping with braided steel wire is another technique recently described to an undercover reporter in the Dispatches series. Serrated wrist or ankle cuffs, thumb clamps -- these and other implements have long been reliably documented. With a prisoner's hands secured behind his back, hoist him off the floor by the wrists, and let him hang for a while. These are all documented. There are approximately 6,000 Tibetan detainees at the moment who are subject to similar treatment. Try not to think about it. I dare you.