Agam's Gecko
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
No Losar 2009
This poster was sent anonymously from inside Tibet, to Tibetans in exile. The coming year is 2136 by the Tibetan calendar.
Image: Phayul News

he Chinese boots on Tibetan backs have not let up, as the approach of several momentous anniversaries give rise to nervousness in the colonial power. The colonialists' answer to this unease: slap those Tibetans in the face with yet another anniversary marking the loss of their country, and make them celebrate it. "Look happy, you Tibetans, or you'll get what's coming to you. People are watching!" Perhaps they're just frustrated at the total failure of their latest espionage project.

Patriotism "re-education" has been ordered to be intensified in Drepung Monastery by Zhu Weiqun, a senior official of the United Work Front Department (who has himself participated in the so-called "dialogue" process with Tibetan delegations last year). The "smooth running" of religious activities requires "stricter measures," said the Vice Minister earlier this month.

Apparently the closure of the monastery last March 10 and the expulsion of students from Amdo and Kham has not been quite strict enough. Nor has the expulsion of senior teachers like Venerable Kunchok Nyima, forcibly expelled and sent back to Amdo. Evidently the severe beating dished out to another Drepung teacher, Ven. Lobsang Wangchuk, leaving him serving time in prison virtually blind, or the torture of Ven. Ngawang Dondham which left him unable to even hold a bowl in his hands, are also not quite strict enough.

Forty-two Drepung monks have been sentenced to imprisonment of between 2 and 15 years. The traditional annual winter debate at Kirti Monastery, Ngaba Prefecture, has been banned by the authorities, who have turned down repeated petitions by the monks. Clearly, China requires ever stricter measures for the "smooth running of religious activities."

According to Phayul News (citing a report on the Voice of Tibet radio service) a monk from the Ngaba Kirti Monastery was arrested by Chinese authorities on January 15. Lobsang Kirti, 27, was apprehended at a photocopy outlet in Ngaba town and is suspected of distributing posters which encourage defiance of government orders to be happy and celebrate the New Year, and other officially prescribed festivities. Posters to this effect have been seen on the walls of the monastery, and Lobsang's arrest is understood to be in connection with this quiet campaign.

Not content with giving orders that this cultural event (winter debate) is prohibited while that cultural event must be celebrated with all the fervor the "broad masses" can muster, authorities continue to make a parody of their "happy emancipated serfs" routine by actually ordering changes to the Tibetan calendar. Before we know it, the Party will be issuing a decree that henceforth, Tibetan New Year (Losar) must be celebrated according to the same lunar calendar as the Chinese New Year. Most years it isn't the same, and this year is one of them. For now, they are content to order the Monlam Chenmo (Great Prayer Festival) to be held ahead of its scheduled time, out of fear for protests.

In February of last year, a dispute between Muslim Hui traders and local Tibetans broke out during the festival in Rebkong, Amdo. Police sided with the Huis, tear gassed the Tibetans, arrested over 200 (mainly monks), and shut down the festival. The incident came less than a month before the great uprising of 2008.

The Voice of Tibet account of the current situation (as translated in Phayul) also noted the sentencing of two monks from Ngaba Kirti Monastery, Kunga and Dorjee, to two year terms of imprisonment, according to a local source. They had been arrested in May 2008 for resisting patriotism re-education sessions. The same source reported that another monk, Lobsang Choephel, 33, was sentenced to four years in prison. Relatives who had visited him in detention were permitted to speak to him by phone through a glass partition, providing they spoke only in Chinese. Lobsang was reported to be very weak, with one eye swollen from his beatings.

Tashi Tso
Tashi Tso, 26 year old nun, sentenced to two and a half years in prison for expressing freedom aspirations.
Photo: TCHRD
Four more Tibetans in Kardze Prefecture have been sentenced to prison terms for engaging in peaceful protest. Tashi Tso, 26, and Dhungtso, about 20, both nuns of Kardze Ghema Draggo Nunnery, had given authorities the slip during curfew on June 18, 2008. After procuring a medical checkup permission note, the two nuns made a run for Kardze County headquarters and peacefully called out for freedom, human rights and His Holiness' return to Tibet. They were immediately arrested, and have now been sentenced to two and a half, and two years respectively.

Jampa Dickyi, a 20 year old Tibetan woman from Thingka Township, Kardze, was sentenced to two years in prison for participating in a demonstration on May 31, 2008. These three women have been sent to Chengdu, Sichuan to serve their time. Yeshi Dorjee, a 32 year old monk from Kharnang Monastery in Kardze, was sentenced November 17 to four years in prison for participating in a peaceful demonstration at Kardze County on June 12, 2008, and distributing leaflets.

Yeshi Dorjee
Yeshi Dorjee, 32 year old monk, sentenced to four years in prison for distributing leaflets.
Photo: TCHRD
Another case of likely forced disappearance has come to light. Yigha, 27, from Rongtsa in Kardze County, had been residing in Lhasa. He disappeared on March 14, and his mother Tsering Khando has been unable to trace his whereabouts since then. There are still around 1000 people on the missing list.

The authorities are keen on having Tibetans seen to be celebrating Losar (Tibetan New Year) this year, which falls one month after Chinese New Year. Bribes of 500 Yuan are being handed out to families in Kardze for this purpose -- but withheld from anyone known to have protested last year. Tibetans have resolved not to celebrate Losar, but rather to mourn their dead and abused compatriots instead. Subsidies to farmers have also been withheld from anyone known to have protested, and any of their relatives.
"All the villages and monasteries in Ngaba County in Sichuan have decided not to celebrate traditional Tibetan New Year," a monk named Tsering at Kirti monastery in Dharamsala, India, said, citing local contacts...

A Tibetan man who asked not to be named said Tibetans in his area of Sichuan province will also forgo Losar festivities.

"Here, in Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi], we are also planning not to celebrate Tibetan Losar," the man said.

"However, the Chinese authorities are planning a meeting of the heads of all counties in this area to force Tibetans to observe the 50th anniversary of ‘democratic reforms’ in Tibet," he said, referring to China’s 1959 military takeover of the Himalayan region.
A T-"A"-R official requesting anonymity confirmed to RFA the elaborate plans to order popular celebration of the New Serfdom, and to "ensure that all people mark the occasion with festivities." Acknowledging problems, he added that "the local Tibetans are not willing." Similar orders of festive participation were delivered last fall, but very few Tibetans heeded them. "Those who did not participate were fined, but no one is paying fines," the anonymous official stated.

Bucking the decrees to celebrate and be happy will only become more difficult for Tibetans after Losar is passed, for a new holiday has been declared by their Chinese communist overlords. Soon after the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan People's Uprising on March 10th, and with the events of one year prior still fresh in their minds, the people will be ordered to observe Serfs' Emancipation Day on March 28. This is the day in 1959 that the CCP government of China officially dissolved the Tibetan government.

There's nothing like taking the Party's most oppressed nationality and grinding their noses into the muck of "We won, get over it," for winning over hearts and minds, eh? They couldn't have come up with a more reckless provocation if they tried. Which probably means, that's what they were going for.

On January 20, Tibetan youths protested in Dzogang County, Chamdo Prefecture (eastern T-"A"-R). Naturally, they were beaten and detained. A local man, asking for anonymity, described the dangerous group who were identified as Thinley Ngodrup, 24, his brother Thargyal, 23, and Pema Tsepak, 24.
"They carried a white banner reading ‘Independence for Tibet,’ threw paper fliers in the air, and shouted slogans," the man said...

"They began their protest in Tsawa Dzogang and walked for about 45 minutes toward the local police headquarters. Before they could get there, they were attacked and detained by the police."

"They were severely beaten," he said.
A girl named Dechen Wangmo was found in possession of Pema Tsepak's phone, and was also arrested. The whereabouts of the four is unknown. The following day, the women of Punda Township marched to the county seat to demand their release. Local police confirmed the solidarity protest, saying, "The protest did happen. I am busy in a meeting."

Local sources in contact with the Tibetan government-in-exile have identified two more arrested in this incident last week, bringing the detainee count to six. The names of the demonstrating youths given in this report are Thinley Ngodup, Bhu Dhargyal, Pema Tsepak, Norbu Tashi and Gonpo Dadul. Three of them are said to be professional painters. The woman arrested separately is identified as Dechoe Dolma.

Pema Tsepak
Pema Tsepak has died of his injuries.
Photo: Tsawa Community
UPDATE: Pema Tsepak died of his injuries on January 23, sustained by beatings at the hands of Chinese security forces.
According to Tsawa Community of Dharamsala, Pema was taken for treatment at Dzogang county hospital but he was so serious that he had to be taken to prefecture hospital in Chamdo where he succumbed to his injuries.

Pema had sustained serious injuries to his intestine and kidney, Yeshi Tsomo of the Tsawa Community told Phayul.
Rest in Peace, Pema.

An explosion on January 5 in Jomda County (also in Chamdo Prefecture) was reported by Tibetan sources. The incident damaged some buildings and cars at a government complex, but there were no fatalities and no suspects have been arrested. A monk from Drepung-in-exile Monastery with contacts in the region said that some locals are linking it to the enforcement of happy celebrations.
"Local people suspect the bombing was a reaction to attempts to force celebrations of the 50th anniversary of ‘democratic reforms,’" he said, referring to China’s 1959 takeover of Tibet.

"The Tibetans in Jomda have been told to prepare a special cultural performance for the celebration," he said. "But they have shown they dislike the assignment."
Easy to understand. I would dislike such an assignment, wouldn't you? Chamdo police confirmed the explosion happened in Dengkok, Jomda County, and are at a loss to explain it but are investigating the matter. Maybe someone could send them a clue regarding the "why" question.

Realizing that the existing policies in Tibet have failed miserably for over half a century, the Party has now announced a brand new charm offensive, which kicked off on January 18. The 42-day winter "Strike Hard" Campaign was announced in the Communist Party's Lhasa Evening News.
"Within three days of the launch of Winter "Strike Hard" Campaign beginning 18 January 2009, Lhasa City Public Security Bureau (PSB) office had deployed 600 officers, around 160 police vehicles and conducted raids on 7 housing blocks, 2922 rented houses, 14 guest house and hotels, 18 bars and 3 internet cafés in Lhasa. After conducting the raid on these locations, the PSB were able to round up 5766 suspects and questioned them. This figure highlights the result of the launch of the "Strike Hard" campaign in Lhasa since it was launched three days ago."
Impressive. Something over 6,000 detainees are known to be held as a result of the crushing of protests through most of 2008. Yet here in one city, over three days, they've picked up 5,766 Tibetans. The efficiency of the "Strike Hard" strategy is plain to see.

These "Strike Hard" campaigns were launched in China 25 years ago for the stated purpose of fighting corruption and crime. In Tibet, as with most things their Chinese rulers do, the execution is somewhat different. In the occupied land, "Strike Hard" means to strike at Tibetan national sentiment and identity, crushing those who express support for Tibetan independence (whether those acknowledging past independence or aspiring to the future one), and eliminating human rights activists such as Wangdue. Arbitrary detention, interrogation and torture are only part of the arsenal of methods used; dismissal from jobs and expulsion from religious institutions also play a key part.

New regulations in Lhasa require that non-resident visitors staying for more than three days must obtain a temporary stay permit from the Public Security Bureau. Failure to do so will be severely dealt with, confirm several workers in the hospitality industry. Dajie (sounds like yet another Sinified Tibetan name) works at a Tibetan-run guesthouse in Lhasa.
"Yes, that's right," she said. "We don't know when the police will come, but they will come all of a sudden."

"The consequences [of not ensuring that all guests have identification] are very serious. They would close down the guesthouse."
Dajie said there was still a very strong police (PAP) presence on the streets of the Tibetan holy city. A worker at another Tibetan-run guesthouse said that possession of the national identity card was essential for Chinese nationals, but revealed that this does not apply to Hong Kong visitors, who are treated as foreigners.
"We can't let them stay without one," she said. "Everyone is being checked. We have to report foreigners checking in within 24 hours of their arrival. The same goes for visitors from Hong Kong."
Ah, the benefits of genuine autonomy. If Tibetans could achieve similar autonomy to that granted Hong Kong, then they too could be treated as foreigners in China!


rom a little-noticed report early this month (because it was only reported in the Indian media), the People's Republic of China is understood to be extremely serious about spying on Tibetans in exile. Ley Xiuan (Hindustan Times' spelling) was arrested in Dharamsala on December 11 for staying illegally in India. Under questioning, he revealed that he is a member of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Under Indian law, the embassy concerned must be informed when a foreigner is arrested. Indian authorities did so, and are still waiting for a reply from the Chinese embassy.
Sources told [Hindustan Times] that the police had also contacted international intelligence agencies to analyse the details obtained from Xiuan’s mobile phone. According to the sleuths, the call details show that he had been in contact with a high-ranking Chinese military official in Lhasa. "We have taken into consideration the revelations made by the Chinese national and are probing the matter," said Atul Fulzele, SSP Kangra.
The military agent reportedly travelled by road from Lhasa and moved through Nepal illegally before reaching Delhi, and continuing on to the Tibetan exiles' centre at Macleod Ganj.

The researchers at Tibet Info Net have been digging into this story, and have come up with a very interesting picture. Lei Xun (probably the more correct spelling) was apparently not just a simple spy, but an agent provocateur sent to sow trouble among the exiles while fabricating evidence to support his government's shrill assertions regarding the dastardly nature of the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Lei was trained in the Surveillance Department of the People's Liberation Army "Special Operations Ground Force". He later moved to the People's Armed Police, stationed in Chengdu, Sichuan until 2000 when he was sent to Kongpo / Nyintri Prefecture in the T-"A"-R. In 2006 he was compelled to leave the PAP on unknown disciplinary grounds. His latest work undercover may have been part of a probationary program, "to make amends for previous faults by performing good services".

After the riot in Lhasa on March 14, and while Tibetans across the plateau were engaged in many dozens of non-violent protests, Lei was assigned by the T-"A"-R Public Security Bureau to identify the imaginary underground exile networks in Lhasa, and to penetrate them. Evidence was needed (lest the government lose face) supporting its contention of Tibetan exile "terrorist networks" planning and executing violent activities. Four officials are identified in the research as being responsible for assigning Lei his projects. He was remunerated on a par with a senior company manager.

The Chinese military agent came up empty in his search for secret exile terrorist networks in Lhasa, so he was sent to Dharamsala via Kathmandu. On his first visit of ten days in May 2008, he was given an audience with His Holiness Dalai Lama. He returned again in August, during the Olympics, and again in October. His last visit was on December 11, when a three-person support team was ready in place to help his escape to China if necessary.

You read that right -- this guy, with no good intentions, met the Dalai Lama on his first excursion.
Lei presented himself as a devoted follower of the Dalai Lama and expressed the desire to meet with the Tibetan leader personally. As part of his cover, he claimed that he had taken out a substantial loan to make the journey by mortgaging his home and other property. Lei sweet-talked the CTA staff into establishing contact with one of the Dalai Lama's Chinese translator[s], as well as a section secretary in the office of the Dalai Lama.
Of course, the spy found no evidence at all to support the notion of Tibetans in exile planning violence in their homeland, which is what his masters wanted. He carried some documents and pamphlets back to China (statement of the Dalai Lama addressed to the people of China, Tibetan Youth Congress statements, etc. -- all in the public domain and previously published on the internet).

Lei had failed to find what his masters wanted, so he tried to come up with something -- anything -- to validate his efforts. So he fingered a monk from Lithang, who was attending Dalai Lama's teachings during May, as an undercover agent of the exile government. This naturally made it impossible for the monk to return home.
Following his return to China, and in what appears to be an increasingly desperate attempt to produce evidence for an elusive Tibetan terrorist plot, Lei undertook more direct attempts to entwine members of the Dalai Lama's entourage in subversive schemes that involved violence. He called the Chinese translator, whom he had met in Dharamsala, and told him of a plan to form a terrorist organisation in China and assassinate Hu Jintao. Despite being rebuffed and advised that the Dalai Lama's commitment to non-violence clearly prevents indulging in such activities, Lei was persistent; he called again and spoke of a plan to target the Qinghai-Tibet railway in a bomb attack.

On his second visit, Lei was tasked to gather information pertaining to the possibility of any exiled Tibetans launching violent activities inside Tibet, and any plans for this. On his return to Lhasa Lei, in an apparent bid to cover his failure in finding any subversive activities amongst Tibetans, played up the incidents of an armed attack on Chinese police by Uighur groups in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and bomb blasts in Yunnan and Shanghai during this period, in which security agencies suspected Tibetan involvement. He conveyed to his handlers that Tibetans had attempted to sabotage the Olympic Games and planned a violent attack. To support his claims he supplied videos of protests rallies held by Tibetans involved in the 'Return March to Tibet' campaign, whose declared goal was to enter Tibet.
Poor Lei Xun. An understandable failure at finding something that wasn't there, he turned to attempts at creating something "there" himself. His bosses were losing patience quicker than they were losing face on the international stage, with their increasingly demented accusations against the Dalai Lama -- with absolutely nothing to back them up. They pressed him to come up with some evidence.

On his final trip to Dharamsala on December 11, he confided to the translator that he was on "special assignment" for the Chinese government, and needed to acquire "important information." Lei Xun was arrested soon after, appearing in court on December 22, and is now being held in remand.

The Chinese Embassy still has no comment.

The great Tibetan patriot Woeser has had another article translated recently, which can be found on her publisher's website. Very much worth reading, with explanatory notes. Many thanks to A. E. Clark for continuing this important work. Go to the website, buy the book! And support this courageous lady in her efforts to communicate the truth about her country.

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