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Blog: Cultural Revolution, Tibet 2008

July 10, 2008

Agams Gecko Blog
July 7, 2008

hinese authorities continue to be pre-occupied with emptying
monasteries and nunneries across the Tibetan plateau, in the absence
of international journalists who were recently told they would soon
be readmitted into Tibet to perform their duties. The door remains
closed, and the abuses conducted behind it continue apace.

In an update to the incidents of banning of annual religious
ceremonies, outlined here on June 28, monks of Gyalgyud and Tak
monasteries in Tsoshar Prefecture, Amdo (Ch: Qinghai) have also been
banned from future religious activities. Restriction orders forbid
the annual performance of the Cham dance, planned at Tak Monastery
for August 10. Anything with even a hint of political message is of
course automatically forbidden. Messages such as this are being sent
by local Tibetans:

"As our area is outnumbered by Hui and Han Chinese, it has been very
difficult even to carry out even a minor [political] activity. It's
not because we don't have courage and loyalty to our cause. We stand
in solidarity with all the Tibetans, in and outside Tibet. We hope
that all the Tibetans will come to know about our situation."

Four more monks from Bheri Monastery in Kardze County were arrested
on June 24, with their quarters then subjected to another of the
famous raids by local PSB officers. Kalsang Yeshi, 27, and Tashi
Ngodup, 30, were arrested for not providing their signatures as
demanded during a political re-education session on June 13-14 for
the purpose of denouncing His Holiness Dalai Lama. Gatruk Dorjee, 41,
and Wangchuk Dorjee, 39, were accused of setting a fire on the Bheri
Bridge near the monastery the previous day.

After earlier reports of detained clergymen and women from various
institutions being finally released in Phenpo County, Lhasa
Municipality, it transpires that many of them have been ejected from
their spiritual homes after pressure from local people for their
re-admission to be allowed. Several monks of Sakya Nalanda Monastery
in Phenpo County have been released after their April arrests. They
are all now physically disabled from the torture they suffered behind
closed doors.

"The monks have disclosed that they were forced to kneel on gravels
with [tires] of vehicles fixed around their necks while the prison
guards keep on beating. Some nuns of a branch of the above monastery,
Phende nunnery, have also complained about similar treatment in the
prison on their release. Many of the nuns have been now rendered
partially disabled, sources have added.

In Nagchu Prefecture, north of Lhasa, four monks were apprehended and
arrested while travelling to the capital on June 18. Ngawang Gyalten,
42, is the abbot of Tarmo Monastery in Driru County, Nagchu, and also
the head of its "Democratic Management Committee" (these are the
Communist Party's control mechanisms inside every institution).
Arrested along with him were another head monk of Tarmo, Ngawang
Jampa, 40, as well as Ngawang Sangye, 38, and Kalsang Lochok, 20,
both also from Tarmo Monastery. During an earlier lightning strike of
re-education sessions under massive military influx to parts of
Nagchu Prefecture, Ngawang Jampa confronted the "work teams" by saying:

"As we follow Buddha Dharma with His Holiness the Dalai Lama as our
root guru, we can not denounce him. He should be welcomed back to Tibet."

He was warned that although it was difficult to arrest him at that
time due to the large number of monks present, he would be dealt with
during the next re-education strike in July. The four monks were then
accused of "not seeking permission to leave the monastery," and were
undoubtedly taken off to a dingy cell somewhere for "interrogation."

A monk from Taktse County, Lhasa Municipality (east of the city) has
died following severe mistreatment in custody. He had been a monk in
Lo Monastery in the county, and his kind heartedness and good nature
earned him the popular nickname "Lama of Lo Gompa." He was Ngawang
Palsang (no age info available), arrested in March by Lhasa PSB,
suffered brutal abuse until sometime in May when he died. He had been
imprisoned for six years in 1993 for "political activities" and was
studying Tibetan medicine at Lhasa Mentsee-khang (Tibetan Medicine
and Astro Institute) at the time of his arrest. This brings the
crackdown death toll to 211.

In a similar case in Taktse County, Pasang (also called Tenzin
Namgyal), a monk from Phagmo Monastery was released recently in a
seriously deteriorated health condition. He had also been imprisoned
in 1993 for a six year term, accused of political activities. He was
also arrested in March by Lhasa PSB and suffered Chinese torture
until his release. His family was firmly warned against disclosing
any information about his torture or photographs of his condition, on
pain of harsh punishment.

Another monk of Drepung Monastery, Lhasa was recently released after
his period of mistreatment in custody following a March arrest by
Lhasa PSB. This former political prisoner had previously served 13
years from 1991 for political activities, and was severely injured in
a prisoners' peaceful protest in 1998. Many such former political
prisoners from the previous century were similarly rounded up
following the outbreak of popular protests across Tibet which began
four months ago.

Monks at Genden Samdupling Monastery in Khangmar, Kardze County have
successfully prevented security thugs from raiding the rooms of five
monks previously arrested in June for their peaceful protests in
Kardze. On July 1, county officials arrived at the monastery in
around 20 vehicles while the monks were conducting an annual
religious ceremony. After hearing the authorities' demands to raid
the rooms of their five prisoners, the monks' assembly resisted by
demanding information on the fate of their five brothers.

     Otherwise, the monks retorted, they would consider the search as
an insult to and harassment of the monastic community. A scuffle
broke out between the monks and the authorities. The monks warned the
authorities that they would resort to the 'only option' at their
disposal. This, then lead to a temporary withdrawal of the officials
from the monastery.

Three monks of Nubsur Monastery in Serthar County, Kardze Prefecture
staged a peaceful demonstration and shouted freedom slogans on June
28 afternoon. Tulku Gendun, Sashi and Gyachuk Wangchuk were
immediately arrested. Four of the roughly 50 nuns from Pangri-Na
Nunnery in Kardze County were released recently. The rest are
detained in Dartsedo, the Kardze prefectural capital, where they
undergo political re-education. More than 100 heavily armed security
thugs raided Drakkar Nunnery in Kardze County on June 26, arresting
Tsering Wangchuk (one of the heads of the institution). She continued
to protest during her arrest.

It is reported that on June 18 at around 11 am, Ngawang Phuntsok, 32,
carried out a peaceful protest at the county PSB office in Kardze.
After calling out for Chinese authorities to stop denouncing Dalai
Lama, permit human rights in Tibet, and for the return of His
Holiness to his people, he was severely beaten up with iron and
electric rods, and arrested by the People's Armed Police. He held a
framed portrait of Dalai Lama and distributed leaflets while
expressing his aspirations.

"It pains us more than being stabbed in our hearts when Chinese
authority force us to vilify His Holiness the Dalai Lama," "Chinese
authority must stop demonizing and defaming the Dalai Lama," "Bring
Human rights in Tibet" and "Dalai Lama should be invited to Tibet."

Just an hour later, three nuns of Yarteng Nunnery (under the
sponsorship of the now-arrested Phurbu Tsering Rinpoche) mounted a
similar peaceful protest. Yangzom, 31, Poewang (Pemo), 27, and Lhamo,
29, shouted freedom slogans which were met by brute force and arrest.

     "His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be invited to Tibet. Bring
human rights in Tibet. Tibet belongs to Tibetans. Release Lobsang
Tenzin Yeshi Thinley Rinpoche [the founder of Pangri Na and Yarteng
nunneries who was arrested on 18 May]".

More than 300 nuns were expelled from Samtenling Nunnery in Tehor
township, Drango (or Drakgo) County in Kardze Prefecture on June 27.
The nuns were said to have been preparing a peaceful protest in
support of a fellow nun, Tsering Tso, who was arrested June 8
following her solo demonstration. Security forces mercilessly beat
the nuns and arrested them at that time for their fearless
solidarity, but later held them within the nunnery and subjected them
to political indoctrination. Required to denounce their beloved Dalai
Lama, all nuns refused to do so. On June 27, all nuns were
individually summoned by the active "work unit" to receive their
expulsion orders. There is said to be a single nun remaining at
Samtenling Nunnery.

The countless "security" raids over these past months, on religious
institutions and private homes alike, are not only meant to instill
the obedience of Tibetans. As a round-up of these incidents by the
Tibetan Solidarity Committee shows, they can also be extremely
profitable for the "security" forces. Millions of yuan worth of
mobile phones, other electronic gadgets, cash, motorcycles, and other
personal belongings have been confiscated or simply stolen, not to
mention the many religious icons, sacred paintings and statues that
have either been looted or destroyed in these "beating, smashing,
stealing incidents." See the link for a partial list of incidents.

TibetInfoNet has conducted a study into some of these events,
likening them to the "punitive expeditions" historically used by
colonial powers to punish and intimidate those who disturb the
imposed order -- a policy which underlines "the impossibility of
maintaining a non-consensual alien rule by anything but force." The
levying of arbitrary and illegal fines, and the slaughter of wildlife
rounds out the list of techniques used (the latter with photographic
evidence). Deceptions of foreigners by the use of security forces'
expertise in disguises, are also featured. The methods investigated
in this piece will bring a nostalgic pang to even the most jaded old
Cultural Revolutionary.

The Times of London reports on the security procedures around Tibetan
religious institutions, tightened up even further in advance of His
Holiness' birthday yesterday (he doesn't celebrate them, but his
people often do). Few monks are present at Lhasa's three important
large monasteries, but where they have all gone remains a mystery.
Army and paramilitary police surround the ancient institutions.

"Now Tibetan sources have revealed that most of the monks, more than
1,000 in total, have been transferred to many prisons and detention
centres in and around the city of Golmud in neighbouring Qinghai
province. The detained monks are all young ethnic Tibetans from
surrounding regions who had made their way to Lhasa, their spiritual
capital, to study and pray in the most prestigious spiritual centres
on the Roof of the World.

"Their detention is part of a policy to rid the monasteries of any
monks not registered as formal residents of the administrative
region, known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region."

Autonomous! Hahahaha... oh, sorry. Ahem ..

The brother of one such monk tells the Times that the incarcerated
monks have been told they will be freed after the Olympics, since
they are not guilty of any crime. They will then be ordered to their
hometowns and not permitted to re-enter the monasteries. The strategy
is simple: lock up as many as possible, keep them there until after
China's big coming out party as a "great nation," keep the religious
institutions sealed so that no one knows what's going on, and evict
them all from their spiritual homes after the foreigners all go back
to their homes. Journalists will keep waiting for that elusive
"permit" until these have been accomplished.

This is Tibet, the devoutly Buddhist country on the Roof of the
World, in 2008. After more than half a century of the communists'
brutal misrule, of policies which couldn't possibly have failed more
spectacularly, their answer is to put on some talking shows for
foreign consumption, and empty the monasteries and nunneries.

China's leadership should be respected by the world when they are
deserving of respect, and not one minute sooner.

Readers may have been wondering over these past months -- what sort
of people are continuing to defend their occupied country against one
of the largest militaries on earth? I know I have. We have precious
few photographs or video footage of what has been taking place during
this time, so effective is the government's closure of information
channels. Here is an edited "Most Wanted" poster of the 36 most
sought-after fugitives of Kardze County, issued on May 7, 2008. The
edict announces:

"Tsering Nemay and other Tibetans enlisted in this order are suspects
of certain crime. All the enlisted 36 Tibetans are on the run. All
concerned local Public Security Bureaus are directed to immediately
detain the suspects from the day of receipt of this arrest order.
Anyone providing leads and information, and those involved in the
arrest of the suspects, whether individual citizen or office, shall
be appropriately rewarded for their good work."

The youngest are Rigzin Karma and Chodak, both 22 (#7 Rigzin looks
pretty young too), and the eldest is Tashi, 62. The large Tibetan
headline (cut from the original image, click the picture link) reads
'ju-bzung bka'-rgya, which can be translated as "Arrest Order." These
are some of the faces of Tibetan resistance in Kardze County.

Arrest Order
1) Tsering Nemay, 25 yrs. Lhopa township, Karze county,
2) Shao Men Men, 43 yrs. female, No. 8 section, Karze town.
3) Gonpo Wangchuk, around 40 yrs. Nyagzam township, Karze town.
4) Tsetan Phuntsok (monk) 38 yrs, Rongpatsa township, Karze county,
5) Rigzin Karma, 22 yrs, Tsogo township, Drakgo county,
6) Chodak, 22 yrs., Trehor township, Drakgo county,
7) Rigzin, Trehor township, Drakgo county,
8) Tseyang alias Yangtso, female, 36 yrs., Tsogo township, Drakgo county,
9) Tenthup, 53 yrs., Nyitoe township, Serta county,
10) Sherten, 30 yrs., Ragtsong township, Serta county,
11) Adron, female, 36 yrs., Taktse township, Serta county,
12) Choeden Kyab, 35 yrs., Choktsang township, Serta county,
13) Soepa, 52 yrs., Yalung township, Serta county,
14) Kyare, female, 30 yrs., Wuda township, Serta county,
15) Woepe, 42 yrs, Serta county, 16) Nyipo, Serkhog township, Serta county,
17) Solo, 40 yrs., Taktse township, Serta county,
18) Tsultim Wangpo, 38 yrs, Taktse township, Serta county.
19) Konchok, 48 yrs, Taktse township, Serta county,
20) Tsekyi, 40 yrs, Choktsang township, Serta county,
21) Sonam Dorje, 25, Yango township, Serta county
22) Lobsang Jamyang alias Lojam, 26 yrs., Serkhog township, Serta county,
23) Sherdrak, 39 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county,
24) Thupga, 30 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county,
25) Lodoe alias Ngozum Takdong, 36 yrs, Ragtsong township, Serta county,
26) Tade, female, 55 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county,
27) Topdo, 38 yrs, Ragtsong township, Serta county,
28) Nyisher, 27 yrs, Samshulthang village, Serta county,
29) Dade, 43 yrs, Nyitoe township, Serta county,
30) Phundo, 51 yrs, Kheokor township, Serta county,
31) Nyima, 40 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county,
32) Jamyang, 42, Nyitoe township, Serta county,
33) Woetso, 28 yrs, Khamleg township, Serta county,
34) Choetso, female, 53 yrs, Serta county,
35) Tashi, 62, Gyashoe village, Serta county, and
36) Kelsang (butter seller), 31 yrs, Serta county.
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