Chinese Authorities Still Holding Five Tibetan Monks Arrested in November

Reported and Translated by RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong. 

Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province are continuing to hold in detention seven people, including four monks who were arrested in November after scattering pro-independence leaflets in front of a Chinese government building.

The monks, identified as Kunsal, 20, Tsultrim, 18, Tamey, 18, and Soeta, 18, were seized in their rooms at Dza Wonpo Ganden Shedrub monastery in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

The group had allegedly scattered hundreds of leaflets on Nov. 7 in the courtyard of the Chinese administrative office in the Dza Wonpo village of Dza Mey township in Sershul.

On Nov.18 another monk named Nimey was taken into custody after posting online expressions of support for those held.

A few days later on Nov. 21, Nimey’s brother Choegyal and another person named Yonten shouted support for Tibetan independence in front of a Chinese police station. They were also detained.

The seven are still being detained, Jampa Yonten, a monk at India’s Sera monastery—told RFA, citing sources in the region.

Between Nov. 24 and Jan. 3, Jampa Yonten learned from his sources that the Dza Mey local government had arrested around 30 people, including monks, on different charges, keeping them detained for more than a month.

According to Jampa Yonten, the arrested were charged for activities like using social media, displaying pictures of the Dalai Lama, or having contact with people outside Tibet.

He said the 30 were fed only barley flour during their detention. They were given political re-education classes for half a month and authorities threatened to punish the masses severely if they were to involve themselves in any political activities, he added.

Police raid Wonpo

Mobile phones of Tibetans living in Wonpo Township and other nearby Townships were searched by Chinese and many were summoned to the police station, interrogated and later forced to sign certain documents, Jampa Yonten told RFA, citing his Tibetan sources.

Following the incident, armed Chinese security forces poured into the Tibetan township and patrolled the streets causing fear among the local Tibetan resident, he said.

An RFA source in Tibet sent photo evidence of Chinese security forces patrolling Wonpo. The source said the presence of armed Chinese personnel is restricting the free movement of Tibetans there.

According to the RFA source, the Chinese security force was in the town between Nov. 7 and Dec. 12, but they have since withdrawn.

Already tightly restricted following widespread protests in Tibetan regions in 2008, Dza Wonpo monastery drew increased police scrutiny in 2012 when monks refused to hoist Chinese national flags on the monastery’s roofs,  and an ensuing crackdown led to scores of arbitrary detentions, arrests, and searches of Tibetan homes, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

Tibetans say Chinese authorities regularly restrict their political activities and peaceful expression of ethnic and religious identity in the Tibetan region and subject them to persecution, torture, imprisonment, and extrajudicial killings.