Join our Mailing List

"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Security Lockdown At Tibetan Monastery for New Patriotic Education Campaign

June 23, 2008

By International Campaign for Tibet
June 21, 2008

Dramatic images show armed troops arriving at Tsendrok monastery in
Mayma township, Machu (Chinese: Maqu) county in Gansu Province on the
morning of April 18. A Tibetan source told ICT that the large
military convoy from Lanzhou (North West Military Division), of
approximately 27 vehicles, arrived at the monastery without any
warning. The source, who said that there were hundreds of armed
personnel in the vehicles, added: "The soldiers barged into the
monastery, conducted random searches, and broke down doors, windows,
and other objects." They cooked food for themselves from the
monastery's supplies, and when they left that evening, took with them
a number of valuable and precious religious artefacts, according to
the same source, a Tibetan in exile with connections in the area.

The monastery has reportedly filed a complaint based on the
confiscation of the artefacts. Similar searches - for items of
political significance such as Dalai Lama pictures - took place in
other monasteries in the area at around the same time. This is one of
several reports received by ICT of religious artefacts being seized
and taken away by troops from monasteries - it has also reportedly
happened in Tongkor (Chinese: Huangyuan) county in Qinghai and
Labrang (Chinese: Xiahe) in Gansu province. There are indications
that these are actions not necessarily sanctioned by higher officials.

Another Tibetan source told ICT: "The personal possessions of monks
as well as objects like small statues and antique china bowls have
been stolen by police during raids on several monasteries. There is
evidence that these actions are by local security forces taking the
law into their own hands." The looting of monasteries during raids
also occurred during the crackdown in the late 1980s in Lhasa.

According to reports circulating in the area, local Tibetans are
disturbed by other actions of security personnel now entrenched in
Machu - in particular, news has reached ICT of soldiers or armed
police shooting and eating Tibetan mastiff dogs, and also taking cash
from monasteries where patriotic education is being enforced.

A stringent campaign of patriotic education has begun recently in the
monasteries of the nomadic area of Machu county, where a major
protest against Chinese rule occurred on March 16. There are nine
monasteries in this area, mostly with small populations of monks, and
many of them were involved in the protests in March. More than 100
personnel were sent into the area to implement patriotic education in
the monasteries after the protests broke out in March, and there was
a particular emphasis - as with other campaigns across Tibet - on
denunciations of the Dalai Lama.

A Tibetan source in exile with connections in Machu told ICT:
"Tibetan Buddhist monks were advised to learn about Communist Party
rule rather than about Buddhism." The same source quoted a monk from
the area saying: "What is happening in the monasteries now with
regard to patriotic education is a real disaster for monks, we are
trying to practice our religion but it is hardly possible." The same
report said that some monks were leaving the monasteries in response
to the campaign. The patriotic education campaign is also being
extended to laypeople in Machu.

Prior to the visit of an escorted group of foreign journalists to two
monasteries in Machu on April 10 (See: Monks reveal concerns about
Chinese allegations on weapons caches, views on Olympics, ICT, April
16, 2008, a group
of provincial level officials headed by the Sichuan propaganda chief
visited the area. According to a report from a Tibetan in exile with
connections in the area, monks were given precise directions as to
how to react when the reporters asked them questions. ICT has
obtained information about the directions given to monks by the
propaganda officials, who said: "If you are asked about your opinion
on the Dalai Lama you should respond by saying that you oppose a free
Tibet and will always oppose activities aimed at separating the
country." The monks were also advised to say that they accepted the
Chinese recognized Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, and not the boy
recognized by the Dalai Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who is in Chinese custody.

On the day the press arrived, monks were made to give prayers in the
main hall of the monasteries and army personnel were stationed out of
sight. According to the same report, "Police officers were given
Tibetan laypeople's clothes and asked to circumambulate the monastery
holding prayer beads."

According to various reports received by ICT, the situation in the
area is still very tense with hundreds of soldiers deployed in Machu.
Many detainees in Machu and other Tibetan areas are being released
upon payment of a fine since the protests in March. These fines are
often substantial and sometimes beyond the means of families or
monks. On occasion, monasteries have paid fines for monks who are
detained. Thirty six monks from one monastery in Machu were released
upon payment of a large fine of 10,000 yuan ($1453) each. The fine
imposed was initially 15,000 yuan ($2180) for some monks but it was
negotiated down. In the initial security sweep following the Machu
protest on March 16, hundreds of Tibetans were taken into custody,
but according to two reports received from the area, most have now
been released, often after torture. One Tibetan in exile with
connections in the area told ICT: "It seems that some are coming out
of prison with injuries that are not always visible. I have heard
several accounts of people being beaten very severely and electric
shock prods used on the genitals of both men and women."

Just over a week ago, a notice was posted on the gate of the
government headquarters of Machu town, naming several Tibetans in the
local police force. According to a source, the poster stated that its
writer understood that Chinese police were beating Tibetans because
they had been involved in a struggle against the Tibetans since the
invasion [in 1949-50]. But the notice added that the author could not
understand why the named Tibetans were collaborating with them and
inflicting such pain on fellow Tibetans. The individuals named were
believed to be those who had been involved in inflicting torture on
Tibetan detainees over the past few months. Police in the area are
apparently not permitted to take any leave at present.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank