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"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?"

Flood hits area near Labrang Monastery; four reported dead

September 7, 2008

ICT report, September 3, 2008

Recent flooding in the Tibetan area of Labrang in Sangchu (Chinese: 
Xiahe) county, Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province 
has left at least four Tibetans dead and badly affected families in 
the area.

Photos posted on a Tibetan blog site in the Chinese language, 
TibetCul.com show damage to local shops and homes and streets lined 
with debris (http://news.tibetcul.com/qt/200808/14130.html).

According to a Tibetan source in exile with contacts in the area, 
known among the dead are the wife of a Mr. Dhula, age 58, and her 
niece, name unknown. Ama Drongkar, age 66 and a monk, name unknown, 
from Mankar Drongtso are also reported among the dead.

No damage to Labrang Monastery has been reported.

The flooding occurred on August 20, and included a large mudslide, 
according to the state-run newspaper, Gansu Daily (http://
www.xinhuanet.com/chinanews/2008-08/23/content_14201537.htm). The 
paper reported that over 400 People's Armed Police personnel were 
deployed and able to clear storm drains blocked by the mudslide on 
the morning of August 22.

Details of the impact of the flooding have been slow to emerge due to 
the authorities' attempts to impose a news blackout on the Tibetan 
plateau since largely peaceful protests against Chinese misrule swept 
across Tibet this spring.

Protests in Labrang on March 14 and 16 were broken up by police using 
tear-gas on hundreds of unarmed Tibetan demonstrators. (See: http://
savetibet.org/news/newsitem.php?id=1221)

Monks from nearby Labrang Monastery were filmed protesting during a 
state-sponsored delegation of foreign journalists on April 9. Several 
of the monks carried large paper Tibetan flags. (See: http://
savetibet.org/news/newsitem.php?id=1287)

Horse race and religious festival cancelled in Labrang in environment 
of political repression

In the wake of the protests and the Summer Olympics, the atmosphere 
has been tense in Labrang, with soldiers stationed there routinely 
patrolling internet cafes and bus stations.

A significant horse race in Sangkhog township due to be held at the 
same time as the Olympics - was cancelled at the last minute by the 
local county authorities. Although no reason was given for its 
cancellation, local Tibetans believe it was in order to deter 
incidents of dissent that might occur during a large gathering of 
Tibetans in the tense political climate and when international 
attention was focused on China during the Olympic Games. Incidents of 
dissent have previously taken place at horse races and religious 
festivals - even prior to the spring uprising beginning in March. 
Nomad Runggye Adak was sentenced to eight years in prison after he 
took to the stage and called for the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet at 
a horse festival in Lithang (Chinese: Litang) in Kardze (Ganzi), 
Sichuan in August 2007.

Although the local government did not stop preparation for the race 
in Sangkhog - which usually attracts thousands of Tibetans - they 
announced its cancellation just before the festival was due to begin 
in mid-August, a few days after the opening ceremony of the Olympic 
Games. A Tibetan with contacts in the area said: "Tibetans had to 
leave with deep regret. This was more than just a horse race. 
Candidate horses are selected through careful religious ceremonies, 
and traditionally prayers are made by Tibetans at the race to 
reincarnate in the Shambhala realm [a Buddhist kingdom] in the next 
life."

For the first comprehensive analysis of the spring uprising in Tibet 
see ICT's new report, 'Tibet at a Turning Point: The Spring Uprising 
and China's New Crackdown', available for downloading at: http://
www.savetibet.org/documents/document.php?id=258

This report can be found online at http://savetibet.org/news/
newsitem.php?id=1357



Press contact:

Kate Saunders_Communications Director, ICT_Tel: +44 7947 
138612_email: press@savetibet.org
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