Monday, July 14, 2008
FORCED EXPULSIONS, FORCED RETURN HAVE TIBETANS PERPLEXED, SUICIDAL
t's like a deranged Monty Python sketch, except that you could die or be maimed if you don't follow the schizophrenic demands to the letter.
"Get all those monks out of here!"There is confirmation that all nuns of Samten Ling Nunnery in Drango County, Kardze have been evicted from their institution on June 27, following their complete non-compliance in forced political re-education sessions. Presently only a single attendant is left at their nunnery. Political re-education campaign has been an abject failure as authorities continue to intensify the programme."OK boss.""This is no good -- get all those monks back here by noon tomorrow or there'll be hell to pay!""Sure thing boss.""Geet! Paint the sand yellow again!"
Businessman Sonam Tashi and Lhasa resident Gyaltsen, who both originate from Kardze County and were arrested in Lhasa in March, have gone missing somewhere inside the Chinese security apparatus, fate unknown.
The nuns of Samten Ling were being punished for supporting a peaceful protest by one of their own, Tsering Tso, on June 8. On that day, Tsering Tso and her sister Ugyen Lhamo were both arrested. Soon after their institution was cleared of nuns after re-education failure, on July 2 their father Palden Nyendak was called to the Drango police station for "interrogation." There he was "chastised" for the "poor upbringing" of his daughters. The following day, Palden Nyendak, 60, was found dead. Further information is awaited before adding his name to those killed by the Chinese crackdown.
His Holiness' birthday on July 6 always gives the authorities the jitters, and of course this year they had jitters well beforehand. These compounded jitters resulted in harshly intensified clampdowns for the occasion across much of the plateau, and Drango County was no exception. An increase in military deployment, heightened scrutiny of every Tibetan seen in public, and the prohibition of Tibetans from gathering in groups meant that the customary sangsol (incense burning ritual) was banned. Restaurants, stores and guest houses were forced to remain closed.
Some intrepid foreigners have apparently made it into this unfortunate county. It's reported that two of them had come to visit Drango's monastery, only to be denied entry by Chinese authorities who forcibly dragged them out of the monastery. Additional troops were called in to inspect the incident; they were found to be under the influence of alcohol, but jumped at the chance to beat up some of the Drango monks for no reason at all.
In a new account of a protest on June 23 (location unclear) in Kardze area, six monks and laypeople expressed the sentiments: "Invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama back to Tibet," "We want religious freedom," "Equal opportunity of minorities" and "Tibetan belongs to the Tibetan." On that morning the six were beaten such that "their entire bodies were covered in blood." Only one has been identified, Ngodup Dorjee of Kardze County.
Massive troop deployment was also reported in Lithang County, Kardze Prefecture, with a sudden curfew announced on July 5 and strict curtailment of Tibetans' movements beginning on the eve of His Holiness' birthday. Those who may have considered defying the restrictions were warned of the consequences, including shoot on sight orders. Tibetans in the neighbouring counties of Nyagchuka, Bathang and Nyarong were barred from entering Lithang County, where the annual horse racing festival was cancelled.
Tibetans in Rebkong County, Amdo decided not to celebrate their annual summer festival, in memory of the two recent disasters (the Chinese government killings and the Sichuan earthquake).
The Lithang horse racing festival is significant, in that it was there one year ago that a nomad, Ronggyal Adrak, took the stage and spoke his mind. He was later found guilty in a Chinese court. This year the "authorities" are taking no chances.
"There is a huge Chinese military force in Lithang,” one Tibetan resident said. “They are intimidating local Tibetans by conducting firing drills and other military exercises."Ronggyal Adrak's nephew, Amdruk Tseten has since escaped to India, and managed to get a phone call through.
"The sounds of explosions and firing of weapons can be heard loudly in the Lithang area," he said...
"They have warned that no-one is allowed to move around or go to Lithang town and its monasteries for three days. If anyone goes, the local authorities have warned that the Chinese security forces are authorized to shoot," he added...Chinese troops sure love doing dress-up. They're constantly playing at being Tibetans.
"Additional troops have been sent to the area, and many Chinese soldiers are disguising the number of troops by putting on Tibetan dress."
"They are deployed in different areas in Lithang. A contingent of more than 600 Chinese soldiers is stationed very close to the monastery of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche in Nyakchuka county. The Chinese army camp is only two miles from the monastery," he said.Extortion by Chinese security forces is reported in Tongkhor village, Kardze County, where security forces fired upon non-violent demonstrators on April 3 (fourteen of those killed have been identified) and have since threatened the monastery with destruction. Currently, Tibetan travellers are having their belongings confiscated by security forces, with threats of detention if they refuse to part with them.
An elderly monk at Kirti Monastery, Ngaba County (scene of one of the earliest documented killings of peaceful protesters) has apparently died as a result of the extreme pressures applied to the institution. After multiple armed raids and harassment, including destruction of religious icons and outright theft, persistent re-education sessions and the eventual eviction of all the younger monks, the schizophrenic authorities decided this didn't quite suit harmonious appearances and ordered all expelled monks to return or face arrest in their homes. This dizzying array of conflicting orders must have had an adverse effect on 70 year old Geshe Jamphel Gyatso's blood pressure. He died on July 6.
These mind-numbing pressures on religious practice have also resulted in suicides; another is reported from Ngaba County where 16 year old Lobsang Tsultrim, a monk at Kirti Dhongri Monastery took his own life out of despair for not being permitted to simply be a monk in peace.
As testified by his elder brother, Lobsang Tsultrim came home from the monastery and later he said to his elder brother, "the Chinese official work-teams have again arrived at the monastery. They have ordered the monks to assemble for the "education". Again, they will not let us stay in peace". With these words, he walked out from his room.The young monk was found a few minutes later after having strangled himself with a rope. The death toll of China's crackdown stands at 213.
In the previous round-up, the June 28 arrests of three monks from Nubsur Monastery in Serthar County, Kardze following their peaceful demonstration was reported. The three are Yingchuk, 18, Gephel, 19, and Sashi, 21. The next morning before dawn, thousands of armed police raided Nubsur Monastery.
About half of the armed police broke into the quarters of Yingchuk and Sashi, pillaging and destroying whatever came their way. The quarters were razed to dust. The armed police also stormed in Gephel's quarter and robbed off his precious belongings and destroyed all other articles including religious texts. It is estimated that property worth 20 thousand Yuans have been destroyed during the raid, including the quarters. Even the timbers from the rubbles were not spared and taken to the county headquarters by the authorities.A public notice was posted that day, accusing the three monks of waving the Tibetan flag, distributing leaflets and shouting slogans. The notice declared that they would be "fittingly punished" for these crimes, and blamed the monastery's "Democratic Management Commitee" for failing to control them.
Those three monks who participated in the protests and anyone supporting them must be expelled from the monastery, the edict said. Those monasteries found to admit the expelled monks would be regarded as supporters of separatist forces and shall be dealt with accordingly, the notice had announced.Namlang was a 42 year old father of two children, 8 and 15. Arrested in March after peacefully protesting in Phenpo County (Lhasa Municipality), he sustained multiple injuries from his beatings in prison. Initially denied medical treatment, he was later sent to the county hospital, but by then they couldn't help him. Namlang died sometime in May, survived by his wife, two children, and his 82 year old grandmother. The death toll in the Chinese crackdown stands at 215, after the inclusion of Namlang and Anu, a 38 year old man shot in Lhasa in March who succumbed to his injuries at the end of June. Three other people of Phenpo County are reported in critical condition following severe beatings.
Three monks from the famous Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Serthar County have been arrested in Chengdu for no apparent reason. Taphun, 44, Ngachung, 37, and Gudrak (age unknown) were arrested on July 8 in the Sichuan capital. Taphun (who had been arrested with others in 2003) and Ngachung are both nephews of the renowned Larung Gar founder, the late Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok. Gudrak is also (though more distantly) related to him.
The monks had travelled to Chengdu to procure supplies for the monastery's kitchen, which Ngachung and Gudrak managed. Taphun accompanied them as driver for the new truck the monastery had purchased. On the fateful evening, Taphun and Ngachung were having dinner in a Chengdu restaurant when plain-clothes PSB agents came and arrested them. Gudrak was taken from the hotel where they'd been staying. The new monastery truck has likely been impounded for use by some happy PSB official. The monks' whereabouts remain unknown.
A senior monastic "disciplinarian" of Kardze Monstery has been expelled from his post after collecting donations for, and dedicating prayers to, the hundreds of victims of China's crackdown in Tibet. Ngodup Phuntsok also defied Chinese orders to hoist the red flag over the monastery and refused to sign denunciations of Dalai Lama.
He had told the authorities during the forced signature campaign that there were none among the monastery who do not have faith in His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He had then warned the authorities' that their action would cause widespread dissension and that Tibetans in Karze would revolt to the last man, if they forcibly fly the flag or ask the monks to denounce the Dalai Lama.Palden Chodak and Nyidor of Nyinmo shang in Palbar County, Chamdo Prefecture (Tibetan "Autonomous" Region) were arrested early this month for expressing grievances in front of local officials. The two Tibetans had demanded equal work rights alongside Han Chinese, and resented the large number of Han in the area who get all the good jobs. Tibetans can work as well as Chinese, they said. You're under arrest, said the local government officials.
A few days earlier, 24 year old monk Choejor of Gyalshoe Bhenkar Monastery and his elder brother Dorje Tashi, 28 (both of Nyinmo shang in Palbar County) were arrested under suspicion of passing information to the outside world. Their fate remains unknown. As does the fate of around 30 other monks from Gyalshoe Bhenkar Monastery, which is located in Driru County, Nagchu Prefecture (Tibetan "Autonomous" Region). They had been temporarily studying at Drepung Monastery, Lhasa, when the crackdown began. No one knows where they have been taken, or indeed whether they are alive.
Four monks of Je Kumbum Monastery in Amdo were arrested secretly by Chinese security forces back on April 16, and taken to Siling City, Qinghai. Held without any charges and subject to intensive interrogation and beatings while their families and compatriots had no idea of their fate, their monastery gradually came to know about the detentions and intervened with authorities. Kalsang Tsundu, Konchok Samten, Jimpa Gyatso and Lobsang Tsering were finally released on May 15, only to find that in the earlier secret raid, their belongings -- including computers and currency -- had been taken by security personnel.
Or perhaps it would be more accurate to call them insecurity personnel.