Agam's Gecko
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Tsering Tsomo
Tibetan Buddhist nun Tsering Tsomo, 27, staged a peaceful solo protest in Drango, Kardze Prefecture on June 8. She was beaten severely, leading to more widespread protest in the area.
Photo: Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy

he Tibetan authorities have identified another of those who were shot dead in front of Lhasa's Jokhang Temple on March 14. Tsomo was a 27 year-old woman from Shigatse and it is believed her body was among those which were taken to Toelung County on March 28 for mass cremation. More personal details of two others shot dead on March 14, and previously identified only by name, are also given in this CTA update. Tenzin Dolkar, a 21 year-old woman was also shot in front of the Jokhang Temple. Penpa, a 21 year-old monk formerly of Tsurphu Monastery was also shot dead on the same day in Lhasa.

Security restrictions have tightened further in the capital since June 1 with the addition of more PAP personnel. The Tibetans in the city are reported to be mainly staying in their homes and not visiting the shrines nor making circumambulations of the temples. Posters are repeatedly posted around the Barkhor and other areas asking Tibetans not to do these common activities because they would allow the Chinese government to claim their success to the world in restoring normalcy. People of nearby counties are prohibited from visiting Lhasa.

Some of those arrested in Lhasa during the early part of the uprising who had been subsequently released, were then re-arrested last month. Some prisoners were released on condition of following the authorities' orders to gather information and names of other participants, while some are also bribed to furnish such information.

More peaceful protests have been confirmed by TCHRD in the Drango County seat in Kardze Prefecture (Ch: Sichuan) on June 8, and the brutal reprisal has resulted in escalated demonstrations in the area. Tsering Tsomo is a 27 year-old nun from Samtenling Nunnery who called out freedom slogans in Drango town around 9 am that morning. She was surrounded by security forces and beaten with iron rods, punched and kicked before being taken away to the county detention centre.

After accounts of Tsering Tsomo's beating and arrest reached her nunnery, more than 200 fellow nuns gathered together at about 5 pm and headed toward the County headquarters. They were stopped at a place called Gogaythang by brutal force before reaching their destination. Reliable sources say that officers beat the nuns with kicks and punches, and used iron rods and electric cattle prods (a widely used torture instrument in Chinese prisons). Scores were injured and ten nuns were so seriously injured that they were taken to hospital. Waiting military trucks transported the detainees to the county detention centre, and relatives were not allowed to visit those who were hospitalized.

The Tibetan Solidarity Committee adds that Samtenling Nunnery (also known as Watag) is located in Tehor township, Drango County. The group has learned that some of the serious injuries sustained by the large group of nuns were stab wounds. The situation in Drango town became very tense when the news of these events spread, and between 500 - 600 local people gathered to demand the release of all the nuns, warning of increased protests. The crowd picketed the county headquarters until 9 pm that evening, and some of the nuns were released. Yesterday morning (June 9) families were seen taking some of these released detainees home -- strapped to their backs due to the nuns' serious injuries, such as broken ribs. The most seriously injured were taken to Chengdu for treatment.

The nuns of Samtenling Nunnery were reported last month to have hung freedom banners in Tibetan and Chinese languages, and then walked out en masse from the resulting political re-education session.

TCHRD also reports an incident in Drango on June 6, when three monks from different local monasteries mounted a peaceful protest at county headquarters, calling for freedom and Dalai Lama's quick return to Tibet. Tsewang Dakpa, Jangsem Nyima and Thubten Gyatso were beaten and shocked with electric cattle prods, kicked and punched by security forces to such an extent that all required urgent medical treatment. Eye witnesses said that Tsewang Dakpa was so severely injured he was not expected to survive. The other two monks were also critically injured and have been transferred to another hospital (possibly also to Chengdu, the Sichuan capital). Rumours of Tsewang Dakpa's death have already spread in Drango.

TSC reports that the three monks had distributed two documents in the district. An appeal to Tibetans on dealing with China's repression:
"How do we rise up against the Chinese Government?" By keeping in mind the basic principles of Tibetan Buddhism and find a solution that mutually benefits both Chinese and Tibetans. We must uphold the principles of non-violence, whether for freedom, justice or liberty. Since the Chinese Government continuously tries to portray peaceful Tibetan demonstrators as terrorists for our use of stones, sticks and weapons, we (Tibetans) must understand their manipulative policies. Therefore, at any cost, we must not opt for violence and not fall under their false labeling of us as terrorists."
And their demands regarding the current situation of Tibet:
"We have no political freedom. We want political freedom. We have no economic freedom. We want economic freedom. We have no religious freedom. We want religious freedom. For the past five decades under Chinese Government's repressive rule, we have lived under an immeasurable repression, terror, torture and death. We need liberation. We have no freedom. We want freedom. We want freedom."
In a report on June 9 TSC reported that one of the three monks, most likely Tsewang Dakpa, has died of his injuries. Additional accounts say that the three monks had dressed themselves in white, and made their protests in turn: when one was arrested, the next would take his place. Earlier, some Tibetan youths had ridden their motorcycles through the middle of Drango market shouting freedom slogans and scattering leaflets. They apparently made good on their escape.

Radio Free Asia has an account from a 79 year-old Tibetan woman in Drango County, from June 3.
"The 'patriotic education' campaign has been vigorously enforced in Tibetan areas and monasteries in the Draggo area during the past few days. On May 31, the Chinese authorities convened a meeting in a town close to Chogri monastery in Draggo and tried to force people to denounce the Dalai Lama. Many poor Tibetans were offered large sums of money to condemn the Dalai Lama and oppose Tibetan independence. The Chinese seem to be placing great importance on these criticisms of the Dalai Lama."

"I am 79 years old, and I have never before seen or heard of monetary incentives for condemning the Dalai Lama. Those Tibetans who would not criticize the Dalai Lama were threatened with expulsion from the area. The Chinese officials claimed that all the land belongs to China, and that anyone refusing to comply with the patriotic education campaign or refusing to sign [the condemnations of the Dalai Lama] was free to go to India or any other place."

"I heard that some poor families signed, but 90 percent of the Tibetans there refused to sign the criticisms of the Dalai Lama, even under threat of confiscation of their land and homes."
Another recent account added to the RFA update page comes from a Tibetan man doing business in Ngari Prefecture, in the far west of the Tibetan "Autonomous" Region. In other words, it's the most distant part of the country from the areas of continuing protest in Amdo and Kham (eastern Tibet). This report was also made on June 3.
"Chinese helicopters are flying over the Ngari area on an almost daily basis, and convoys of military trucks are on display in the main towns of the prefecture. Local Tibetans see these activities as a show of force meant to threaten and intimidate them."

"Chinese authorities have ordered all Tibetan families in the area to send one member from each family to serve in the local Chinese militia. All those conscripted into the militia are being trained at a place called Tashi Gang in Ngari. They are forced to wear uniforms issued by the Chinese."

"The police have warned Tibetans not to provide information about the local situation to outsiders. Anyone caught doing this will face severe punishment."
The Chinese authorities have strictly implemented the banning of foreign reporters from Tibetan areas, but this hasn't apparently been 100% effective. In recent weeks, the New York Times' Nicolas Kristof has secretly reported from Labrang in Kanlho Prefecture (Gansu Province) and now another foreign reporter has sent a dispatch from Golog Prefecture in southeastern Qinghai. Barbara Demick reports on the arrests of Tibetan cultural figures from this predominately Tibetan (91.6% per 2000 census) region's "wild west" capital, Dawu (not to be confused with Dawu [or Tawu] in Kardze).

At the end of March, Dolma Kyi (I'll keep the same spelling I've used previously, the Times spells it differently) was arrested by the authorities without any particular reason. The singer was apprehended around the same time as a Tibetan television producer, a popular comedian and several other prominent Tibetan cultural proponents (none of whom had any involvement in the protests). She had opened a small place for listening to live music in Dawu, the only such venue in the town. On March 30 she was arrested while hanging laundry on her balcony, her three children unaware of what had happened to her.
Donzhub, a ponytailed young man who occasionally played in Drolmakyi's nightclub, a place painted with colorful murals of lotus blossoms and other Buddhist symbols, said, "We used to sing about things we couldn't talk about."

The nightclub opened in the fall. Drolmakyi was eager to provide some culture in a town where night life consisted of playing pool at the market. She also used the club as a training center for illiterate Tibetan women, teaching them to sing in order to gain financial independence.
The singer was held for nearly two months and released in late May, apparently on condition that she not appear in public or discuss her arrest. Prof. Robert Barnett of Columbia University believes the arrests of people like Dolma Kyi and the other popular cultural figures are intended to intimidate other Tibetans, and that the conditions for their release are meant to silence them.
"The Chinese have had a consistent focus on people who have ideas, people who think and who might inspire others to think about what it means to be Tibetan," Barnett said.
The reporter notes that before the crackdown, because of the remoteness of the Golog area, Tibetan culture did not need to be hidden. Most restaurants had a portrait of Dalai Lama, and shops freely sold his photos and other mementos, or copies of his speeches. Now the portraits are gone and the shops don't display the videos and CD's of the arrested performers. Many Tibetans told the reporter that they had even stashed away the Dalai Lama portraits kept in their homes. Some were even afraid to speak to the journalist, the first to visit the area since March. "You never know when the police will come," said Cebu, a 50-year-old Tibetan herder.

To this observer, the situation sounds like pervasive fear, persistent intimidation, and high tension. But to the Party's way of thinking, expressed by Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang in his regular press conference on June 6, this is social stability.
Q: It has been three months since the Tibet incident. And you were saying stability was not restored yet. Does that mean the Chinese Government cannot restore stability in Tibet after three months?

A: I made it clear just now. We are adopting measures to maintain social stability. Social order in Tibet is getting further restoration now.

If you are trying to suggest that the Chinese Government is not capable of safeguarding tranquility of a certain place within its own territory, you are underestimating the Chinese Government and people. Tibet stays as China's Tibet. Don't even think about separating Tibet from China.

If there are no more questions, thank you. See you!
Not if I see you first! Qin was also asked by a journalist to provide the CCP's claimed evidence for their charge that Dalai Lama was the mastermind of violent incidents. All he could offer was a recommendation to read the reports in the state-run Party organ mouthpiece "media". Not very convincing. He claims to have "a lot of facts" to support the accusation, but he can't even mention a single one.

Despite Dalai Lama's unambiguous statements before the entire world that he does not favour Tibetan separation, his promise to resign if the Tibetans used violence (since that statement on March 19, they haven't), and his repeated and enthusiastic support for China's hosting of the Olympic Games, Qin comes up with this, by now boilerplate, CCP formula: "What the Dalai Clique needs to do now is to take concrete actions to truly stop its separatist activities, stop plotting and provoking violent activities and stop disrupting the Beijing Olympics." How can anyone talk to such people, so constricted by their rigid ideology? If the ideology is in conflict with observable reality, then it's reality which is "suspicious" or "deceiving" and "can't be trusted." It amounts to "trust what we say is true, not what you see and hear."

Should the Olympics be boycotted in response to all this? Today, China says sport should be kept separate from politics. But these games have always been used for political purposes by China's government, to show the capabilities of their one-party system and China's arrival as a "great power."

But what about in the past? From the 1956 Games to the 1976 Games, China boycotted Melbourne, Rome, Tokyo, Mexico, Munich and Montreal because of the Taiwan issue. In 1980 China boycotted Moscow because of the Afghanistan issue. Seven straight Olympics which the CCP did not separate from politics. For the CCP, the 2008 Games are no less a political issue.

Since athletes are not to blame for any of this, and the Chinese Communist Party is to blame for all of it, why not let the competitions take place without pouring any of the glory onto the CCP? If apartheid South Africa could be banned from participating, the least we can do for occupied Tibet is to refrain from attending the Party's big opening party. Anyone with a moral conscience should have no business being there.

But here is a beautiful take on the athletics themselves, in poetic form by Tibetan writer Tsoltim Shakabpa. It would be fantastic if every participating athlete could receive a copy of this.
The Beijing Olympics

by Tsoltim N. Shakabpa
June 6, 2008

When in the Beijing Olympics
Win for free speech
Run for human rights
Throw a javelin to kill hatred
Jump to overcome ignorance
Bicycle to treadle over tyranny
Pole vault to reach for freedom
Throw a shot put to knock out communism
Swim to save those imprisoned and tortured
And race as hard as you can in praise of God
A new Tibet documentary project is to be released this month, and you can find out more at The Tibet Project. A very good clip from the film can be viewed here: Tibet's Cry for Freedom.

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