A Record of Tibetan Unrest: April 10–April 13

By Tsering Woeser
Tsering Woeser
Tsering Woeser
April 17, 2008Updated: April 17, 2008

Note: Tsering Woeser is the foremost Tibetan writer in Tibet and China today. She has published these entries in her blog to record the incidents occurring in Tibet and China. According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), she has been under house arrest in Beijing since March 10.

April 10, 2008

Today–it's been exactly one month since March 10–is the 28th day since the Tibetans who died during the “3.14” event. It is also called “Kutes Shepa,” in terms of Tibetan burial custom, when many Tibetans in Lhasa light their candles praying for those deceased souls.

The No. 19 Arrest Warrant issued by the Department of Public Security of Tibet Autonomous Region, was broadcast in both Tibetan and Chinese on Tibet TV's Entertainment Channel and Lhasa Television Station. Five men and one woman were wanted. So far there have been 111 wanted Tibetans in total.

It was reported that some rooms in the Lhasa Railway Station have been designated as temporary jails. Arrested Tibetans were sent by train to prisons in northwestern China. Currently all Tibetans traveling by train from Lhasa to Xining City in Qinghai Province have been examined thoroughly as many as seven times. No Tibetan is allowed to enter Lhasa without the identification card issued by the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

To ensure the successful passage of the Olympic Torch through the Himalayan region in early May, the TAR instructed travel agencies not to allow foreign visitors. This notice withdrew an earlier decision by the regional tourism department, that is, the Tibetan region will be reopened to foreign tourists as of May 1.

According to sources, some monks were arrested from the Labrang Monastery in Xiahe County in the region of Amdo (under Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province) because yesterday they told the truth, to some foreign reporters. About 30 monks from the Oula Monastery in Machu County and 10 other Tibetans in Machu's Oula Town were arrested on the evening of April 7. Lobsang Tscheng, Lobsang Tsundue, Lobsang Tinley, Lobsang Ngama and Jamyang Ngama were among the 23 monks who were arrested from the Kirti Monastery in Aba County in the region of Amdo (under Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province). Theauthorities are launching a propaganda campaign across Aba to conceal the truth. Local people were asked to make declarations, in front of propaganda agents' cameras, stating: “Oppose the Dalai clique; never collect Dalai Lama's portraits; do not join in the Dalai clique; never follow national splittists; the plot of ethnic separation will be foiled; support the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); follow the Party's leadership and express thanks for the Party's kindness.” They were also warned that they would be arrested if they refused to make such a public declaration.

“The authorities issued a notification to the people who have been hiding in the mountains, including more than 300 monks and many local Tibetans, stating that if they don't surrender within five days, the Tongkor Monastery will be destroyed. The Monastery is a famous temple with a long history. The collection of cultural relics, including the Golden Buddha and the Tang Dynasty's paintings, were able to escape from the destruction of the Cultural Revolution. Whether they will continue to exist after this adversity is a concern. “

April 11, 2008

Currently 21 Chinese lawyers would like to provide legal assistance to those arrested Tibetans. They expressed their opinions in a signed letter stating: “According to relevant reports in the country, a few hundred Tibetan people have been arrested during the '3.14' event. As practicing lawyers, we hope the departments concerned treat the arrested Tibetans strictly in accordance with the Constitution, laws and criminal prosecution procedure. It is necessary to strictly forbid extorting confessions by torture, respect judicial independence and safeguard the sanctity of the law. We are here to express our serious concern about this case. And we would like provide any legal assistance.” However, the authorities warned several lawyers not to get involved in the case. At least three lawyers had to withdraw because of intimidation. According to these lawyers, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice told them not to take the case and defend those arrested Tibetans, while claiming “There is no demand for attorneys to help with this case from outside of Tibet because there are enough local lawyers inside Tibet.”

Actually it is political interference with the independence of legal procedures, thereby depriving the Tibetans of their right to protect themselves through legal means. Under these conditions, it is hard to imagine that lawyers will be able to help much. Likewise, no Tibetan, living in mortal fear, is willing to risk hiring a lawyer. What's more important is that the trial judgment at the end cannot be fair and just. In fact, any defense lawyers assigned by the authorities function the same as no lawyers at all. It was reported that several days ago, four or five Tibetans protested on the street in Rutog County of the Ali District of Tibet. They shouted slogans like “Peace talks with the Dalai Lama to resolve the Tibetan issues, stop the repression and massacre of Tibetan.” Soon they were seized by police and detained in Ali's Shiquan Town. Moreover, monks and local residents from the Tongkor District in Ganzi County (under Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Region in Sichuan Province), were openly threatened if the Tibetans who had fled to the mountains refused to surrender. The local Tibetans with gunshot wounds didn't dare to go to hospital, thus their conditions have deteriorated due to the lack of timely treatment.

In Lhasa, the Drepung Monastery, the Sera Monastery, the Jokhang Temple and the Ramoche Temple have been surrounded by military police for a month. Not only are believers forbidden to worship in the temples, but all Buddhist services and teachings have to be suspended. The daily lives of the monks are seriously disrupted. In the temple, small amounts of fluid and food are temporarily provided, and landline and mobile phone services have been disconnected. There are also some monks missing. They are calling to the outside world for close attention and immediate help.

The TAR's Department of Public Security issued the No. 20 and No. 21 arrest warrants. They were broadcasted in both Tibetan and Chinese on the Lhasa and Tibet TV stations. Eighteen people are wanted in the No. 20 Warrant. Because of the change of the regular broadcasting time, the names of the 18 wanted have not been heard yet. Fourteen people, all monks, are wanted in the No. 21 Warrant. Judging from the pictures, they are the monks who participated in the peaceful parade and sit-in protest staged by thousands of monks in Lhasa before March 14. The total number of 32 people named in these two warrants is the highest number named in a single day thus far. There have been 143 named Tibetans.

April 12, 2008

A Japanese reporter said that Taktser, a small village in Pingan County in Qinghai's Xining City, is the Dalai Lama's hometown. Now the front doors of the old house are closely shut. The Qinghai provincial judicial authorities posted notices on walls on both sides of the main entrance. The notice in both Chinese and Tibetan is dated April 2. The Chinese version roughly says that posting and distributing any logos or flyers that endanger national security are prohibited. Manufacturing and distributing the Dalai Lama's portraits or photos is also prohibited. The notice also reads, “Realizing one's errors and mending one's ways is the only way out for lawbreakers. Those who surrender and plead guilty or report other lawbreakers will receive a lesser or mitigated punishment.” The notice also points out that the general public will be commended and rewarded for reporting lawbreakers. It is said that there are police officers patrolling during the day, and the roads leading to the village have been blocked.

The latest news says on the evening of the 10th, a large number of military vehicles entered the Drepung Monastery again. On the 11th, roads leading to it were blocked. It is said that many hungry monks, who have been stranded for 30 days in the temple surrounded by military police, are going to come down the mountain to seek lifting of the martial law. Other sources say that there may have been an incident triggered by military police who made arrests by breaking into the temple. The exact reason of this military deployment is not yet known, but there are reported casualties. While communication with the temple is still blocked, the news has already spread across Lhasa. The Tibetans are filled with anxiety.

A recent conflict is said to have broken out between Tibetan students and Han Chinese students in a Lhasa high school. Many local Han Chinese have been showing hostility toward Tibetans. A bicycle repair store refused to repair a flat tyre for a Tibetan student. In a food market, a Han grocer shouted, “A pound of cucumbers, two yuan (US$0.29) for the Han people, and three yuan ($.43) for the Tibetans. Those who refuse to accept it, so be it.” At the end of March, a price dispute in a food market resulted in the beating of five Tibetans. Later a soldier shot one Tibetan in the leg, and all five were arrested.

Some Tibetans who were arrested for no reason on March 14 were released. According to sources, these people had nothing to do with the “3.14” event. Some nursemaids were arrested on their way for grocery shopping. Some simply lived in Tibetan residential areas. Even the Tibetan workers, who were working on houses, were arrested. Over 100 college and high school students were included as well.

Over 800 people were detained inside a warehouse at the Lhasa Railway Station. Some were guarded by soldiers and some by the public security. Those who were kept under detention by the army suffered brutal physical torture, beating and are hungry. Those detained by the police fared better as they were served some food. Later, some of them were directly transferred to the Lhasa's Gutsa detention center while some were transferred to prisons in Tolung Dechen County or Maizhokunggar County before moving to the Gutsa detention center. As for the released, non Lhasa residents, were escorted back to the regions they came from. Then the detainees from Lhasa were released. Over 3,000 people have been arrested so far.

The No. 22 Warrant was broadcast just like the other warrants, 11 wanted people. Up to now, a total of 154 Tibetans are wanted. These three consecutive arrest warrants dramatically increased the number of people wanted, most of them are monks. Although it is impossible to learn more details, it is certain that something occurred in Lhasa's temples. It might be related to what happened at Drepung Monastery yesterday. News came from Tongkor District of Ganzi County in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. It said that after suppressing the demonstrations by local monks and civilians, the authorities issued a notification to the people who have been hiding in the mountains, including more than 300 monks and many local Tibetans, stating that if they don't surrender within five days, the Tongkor Monastery will be destroyed. As of now, no monks or villagers have come down the mountain. At present it is not known whether or not the authorities have taken any action. According to a report, a monk from the Tongkor Monastery said, “Now we don't dare to go down the mountain, anyone who does so will be arrested immediately. Once, three of us entered the Tongkor Monastery. Soon three troops were outside. They took our belongings such as books and money as if were a robbery. The Tongkor Monastery is not destroyed yet, at least in the past few days, but all the doors are open.” The Tongkor Monastery is a famous temple with a long history. Monks in history have left large numbers of precious cultural relics. The collection of cultural relics, including the Golden Buddha and the Tang Dynasty's paintings, were able to escape from the destruction of the Cultural Revolution. Whether they will continue to exist after this adversity is a concern.

April 13, 2008

Many people in Lhasa have heard about the incident on the 11th at the Drepung Monastery where armed police suppressed the monks. But no one knows the details. The people are all concerned for the monk's lives. They hope the outside world pays close attention to these Tibetans .

The No. 23 Warrant issued with seven people wanted, all male civilians, was broadcast. Up to now, a total of 161 Tibetans are wanted.

The Ganzi authorities called all the religious leaders and relevant people from 18 counties for an emergency meeting, demanding all attendees sign a document opposing the Dalai Lama. It is ordered that starting April 13, a propaganda movement is being launched initially in the 43 temples, focusing on the “Love country, love religion” as well as the “anti-Dalai clique.”

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