Monday, July 07, 2008
CULTURAL REVOLUTION, TIBET 2008
hinese authorities continue to be pre-occupied with emptying monasteries and nunneries across the Tibetan plateau, in the absence of international journalists who were recently told they would soon be readmitted into Tibet to perform their duties. The door remains closed, and the abuses conducted behind it continue apace.
In an update to the incidents of banning of annual religious ceremonies, outlined here on June 28, monks of Gyalgyud and Tak monasteries in Tsoshar Prefecture, Amdo (Ch: Qinghai) have also been banned from future religious activities. Restriction orders forbid the annual performance of the Cham dance, planned at Tak Monastery for August 10. Anything with even a hint of political message is of course automatically forbidden. Messages such as this are being sent by local Tibetans:
"As our area is outnumbered by Hui and Han Chinese, it has been very difficult even to carry out even a minor [political] activity. It's not because we don't have courage and loyalty to our cause. We stand in solidarity with all the Tibetans, in and outside Tibet. We hope that all the Tibetans will come to know about our situation."Four more monks from Bheri Monastery in Kardze County were arrested on June 24, with their quarters then subjected to another of the famous raids by local PSB officers. Kalsang Yeshi, 27, and Tashi Ngodup, 30, were arrested for not providing their signatures as demanded during a political re-education session on June 13-14 for the purpose of denouncing His Holiness Dalai Lama. Gatruk Dorjee, 41, and Wangchuk Dorjee, 39, were accused of setting a fire on the Bheri Bridge near the monastery the previous day.
After earlier reports of detained clergymen and women from various institutions being finally released in Phenpo County, Lhasa Municipality, it transpires that many of them have been ejected from their spiritual homes after pressure from local people for their re-admission to be allowed. Several monks of Sakya Nalanda Monastery in Phenpo County have been released after their April arrests. They are all now physically disabled from the torture they suffered behind closed doors.
The monks have disclosed that they were forced to kneel on gravels with [tires] of vehicles fixed around their necks while the prison guards keep on beating. Some nuns of a branch of the above monastery, Phende nunnery, have also complained about similar treatment in the prison on their release. Many of the nuns have been now rendered partially disabled, sources have added.In Nagchu Prefecture, north of Lhasa, four monks were apprehended and arrested while travelling to the capital on June 18. Ngawang Gyalten, 42, is the abbot of Tarmo Monastery in Driru County, Nagchu, and also the head of its "Democratic Management Committee" (these are the Communist Party's control mechanisms inside every institution). Arrested along with him were another head monk of Tarmo, Ngawang Jampa, 40, as well as Ngawang Sangye, 38, and Kalsang Lochok, 20, both also from Tarmo Monastery. During an earlier lightning strike of re-education sessions under massive military influx to parts of Nagchu Prefecture, Ngawang Jampa confronted the "work teams" by saying:
"As we follow Buddha Dharma with His Holiness the Dalai Lama as our root guru, we can not denounce him. He should be welcomed back to Tibet."He was warned that although it was difficult to arrest him at that time due to the large number of monks present, he would be dealt with during the next re-education strike in July. The four monks were then accused of "not seeking permission to leave the monastery," and were undoubtedly taken off to a dingy cell somewhere for "interrogation."
A monk from Taktse County, Lhasa Municipality (east of the city) has died following severe mistreatment in custody. He had been a monk in Lo Monastery in the county, and his kind heartedness and good nature earned him the popular nickname "Lama of Lo Gompa." He was Ngawang Palsang (no age info available), arrested in March by Lhasa PSB, suffered brutal abuse until sometime in May when he died. He had been imprisoned for six years in 1993 for "political activities" and was studying Tibetan medicine at Lhasa Mentsee-khang (Tibetan Medicine and Astro Institute) at the time of his arrest. This brings the crackdown death toll to 211.
In a similar case in Taktse County, Pasang (also called Tenzin Namgyal), a monk from Phagmo Monastery was released recently in a seriously deteriorated health condition. He had also been imprisoned in 1993 for a six year term, accused of political activities. He was also arrested in March by Lhasa PSB and suffered Chinese torture until his release. His family was firmly warned against disclosing any information about his torture or photographs of his condition, on pain of harsh punishment.
Another monk of Drepung Monastery, Lhasa was recently released after his period of mistreatment in custody following a March arrest by Lhasa PSB. This former political prisoner had previously served 13 years from 1991 for political activities, and was severely injured in a prisoners' peaceful protest in 1998. Many such former political prisoners from the previous century were similarly rounded up following the outbreak of popular protests across Tibet which began four months ago.
Monks at Genden Samdupling Monastery in Khangmar, Kardze County have successfully prevented security thugs from raiding the rooms of five monks previously arrested in June for their peaceful protests in Kardze. On July 1, county officials arrived at the monastery in around 20 vehicles while the monks were conducting an annual religious ceremony. After hearing the authorities' demands to raid the rooms of their five prisoners, the monks' assembly resisted by demanding information on the fate of their five brothers.
Otherwise, the monks retorted, they would consider the search as an insult to and harassment of the monastic community. A scuffle broke out between the monks and the authorities. The monks warned the authorities that they would resort to the 'only option' at their disposal. This, then lead to a temporary withdrawal of the officials from the monastery.Three monks of Nubsur Monastery in Serthar County, Kardze Prefecture staged a peaceful demonstration and shouted freedom slogans on June 28 afternoon. Tulku Gendun, Sashi and Gyachuk Wangchuk were immediately arrested. Four of the roughly 50 nuns from Pangri-Na Nunnery in Kardze County were released recently. The rest are detained in Dartsedo, the Kardze prefectural capital, where they undergo political re-education. More than 100 heavily armed security thugs raided Drakkar Nunnery in Kardze County on June 26, arresting Tsering Wangchuk (one of the heads of the institution). She continued to protest during her arrest.
It is reported that on June 18 at around 11 am, Ngawang Phuntsok, 32, carried out a peaceful protest at the county PSB office in Kardze. After calling out for Chinese authorities to stop denouncing Dalai Lama, permit human rights in Tibet, and for the return of His Holiness to his people, he was severely beaten up with iron and electric rods, and arrested by the People's Armed Police. He held a framed portrait of Dalai Lama and distributed leaflets while expressing his aspirations.
"It pains us more than being stabbed in our hearts when Chinese authority force us to vilify His Holiness the Dalai Lama," "Chinese authority must stop demonizing and defaming the Dalai Lama," "Bring Human rights in Tibet" and "Dalai Lama should be invited to Tibet."Just an hour later, three nuns of Yarteng Nunnery (under the sponsorship of the now-arrested Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche) mounted a similar peaceful protest. Yangzom, 31, Poewang (Pemo), 27, and Lhamo, 29, shouted freedom slogans which were met by brute force and arrest.
"His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be invited to Tibet. Bring human rights in Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. Release Lobsang Tenzin Yeshi Thinley Rinpoche [the founder of Pangri Na and Yarteng nunneries who was arrested on 18 May]".More than 300 nuns were expelled from Samtenling Nunnery in Tehor township, Drango (or Drakgo) County in Kardze Prefecture on June 27. The nuns were said to have been preparing a peaceful protest in support of a fellow nun, Tsering Tso, who was arrested June 8 following her solo demonstration. Security forces mercilessly beat the nuns and arrested them at that time for their fearless solidarity, but later held them within the nunnery and subjected them to political indoctrination. Required to denounce their beloved Dalai Lama, all nuns refused to do so. On June 27, all nuns were individually summoned by the active "work unit" to receive their expulsion orders. There is said to be a single nun remaining at Samtenling Nunnery.
The countless "security" raids over these past months, on religious institutions and private homes alike, are not only meant to instill the obedience of Tibetans. As a round-up of these incidents by the Tibetan Solidarity Committee shows, they can also be extremely profitable for the "security" forces. Millions of yuan worth of mobile phones, other electronic gadgets, cash, motorcycles, and other personal belongings have been confiscated or simply stolen, not to mention the many religious icons, sacred paintings and statues that have either been looted or destroyed in these "beating, smashing, stealing incidents." See the link for a partial list of incidents.
TibetInfoNet has conducted a study into some of these events, likening them to the "punitive expeditions" historically used by colonial powers to punish and intimidate those who disturb the imposed order -- a policy which underlines "the impossibility of maintaining a non-consensual alien rule by anything but force." The levying of arbitrary and illegal fines, and the slaughter of wildlife rounds out the list of techniques used (the latter with photographic evidence). Deceptions of foreigners by the use of security forces' expertise in disguises, are also featured. The methods investigated in this piece will bring a nostalgic pang to even the most jaded old Cultural Revolutionary.
The Times of London reports on the security procedures around Tibetan religious institutions, tightened up even further in advance of His Holiness' birthday yesterday (he doesn't celebrate them, but his people often do). Few monks are present at Lhasa's three important large monasteries, but where they have all gone remains a mystery. Army and paramilitary police surround the ancient institutions.
Now Tibetan sources have revealed that most of the monks, more than 1,000 in total, have been transferred to many prisons and detention centres in and around the city of Golmud in neighbouring Qinghai province. The detained monks are all young ethnic Tibetans from surrounding regions who had made their way to Lhasa, their spiritual capital, to study and pray in the most prestigious spiritual centres on the Roof of the World.Autonomous! Hahahaha... oh, sorry. Ahem ..
Their detention is part of a policy to rid the monasteries of any monks not registered as formal residents of the administrative region, known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
The brother of one such monk tells the Times that the incarcerated monks have been told they will be freed after the Olympics, since they are not guilty of any crime. They will then be ordered to their hometowns and not permitted to re-enter the monasteries. The strategy is simple: lock up as many as possible, keep them there until after China's big coming out party as a "great nation," keep the religious institutions sealed so that no one knows what's going on, and evict them all from their spiritual homes after the foreigners all go back to their homes. Journalists will keep waiting for that elusive "permit" until these have been accomplished.
This is Tibet, the devoutly Buddhist country on the Roof of the World, in 2008. After more than half a century of the communists' brutal misrule, of policies which couldn't possibly have failed more spectacularly, their answer is to put on some talking shows for foreign consumption, and empty the monasteries and nunneries.
China's leadership should be respected by the world when they are deserving of respect, and not one minute sooner.
Readers may have been wondering over these past months -- what sort of people are continuing to defend their occupied country against one of the largest militaries on earth? I know I have. We have precious few photographs or video footage of what has been taking place during this time, so effective is the government's closure of information channels. Here is an edited "Most Wanted" poster of the 36 most sought-after fugitives of Kardze County, issued on May 7, 2008. The edict announces:
"Tsering Nemay and other Tibetans enlisted in this order are suspects of certain crime. All the enlisted 36 Tibetans are on the run. All concerned local Public Security Bureaus are directed to immediately detain the suspects from the day of receipt of this arrest order. Anyone providing leads and information, and those involved in the arrest of the suspects, whether individual citizen or office, shall be appropriately rewarded for their good work."The youngest are Rigzin Karma and Chodak, both 22 (#7 Rigzin looks pretty young too), and the eldest is Tashi, 62. The large Tibetan headline (cut from the original image, click the picture link) reads 'ju-bzung bka'-rgya, which can be translated as "Arrest Order." These are some of the faces of Tibetan resistance in Kardze County.
1) Tsering Nemay, 25 yrs. Lhopa township, Karze county, 2) Shao Men Men, 43 yrs. female, No. 8 section, Karze town. 3) Gonpo Wangchuk, around 40 yrs. Nyagzam township, Karze town. 4) Tsetan Phuntsok (monk) 38 yrs, Rongpatsa township, Karze county, 5) Rigzin Karma, 22 yrs, Tsogo township, Drakgo county, 6) Chodak, 22 yrs., Trehor township, Drakgo county, 7) Rigzin, Trehor township, Drakgo county, 8) Tseyang alias Yangtso, female, 36 yrs., Tsogo township, Drakgo county, 9) Tenthup, 53 yrs., Nyitoe township, Serta county, 10) Sherten, 30 yrs., Ragtsong township, Serta county, 11) Adron, female, 36 yrs., Taktse township, Serta county, 12) Choeden Kyab, 35 yrs., Choktsang township, Serta county, 13) Soepa, 52 yrs., Yalung township, Serta county, 14) Kyare, female, 30 yrs., Wuda township, Serta county, 15) Woepe, 42 yrs, Serta county, 16) Nyipo, Serkhog township, Serta county, 17) Solo, 40 yrs., Taktse township, Serta county, 18) Tsultim Wangpo, 38 yrs, Taktse township, Serta county.
19) Konchok, 48 yrs, Taktse township, Serta county, 20) Tsekyi, 40 yrs, Choktsang township, Serta county, 21) Sonam Dorje, 25, Yango township, Serta county 22) Lobsang Jamyang alias Lojam, 26 yrs., Serkhog township, Serta county, 23) Sherdrak, 39 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county, 24) Thupga, 30 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county, 25) Lodoe alias Ngozum Takdong, 36 yrs, Ragtsong township, Serta county, 26) Tade, female, 55 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county, 27) Topdo, 38 yrs, Ragtsong township, Serta county, 28) Nyisher, 27 yrs, Samshulthang village, Serta county, 29) Dade, 43 yrs, Nyitoe township, Serta county, 30) Phundo, 51 yrs, Kheokor township, Serta county, 31) Nyima, 40 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county, 32) Jamyang, 42, Nyitoe township, Serta county, 33) Woetso, 28 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county, 34) Choetso, female, 53 yrs, Serta county, 35) Tashi, 62, Gyashoe village, Serta county, and 36) Kelsang (butter seller), 31 yrs, Serta county.