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New images confirm security buildup of Drepung on day Dalai Lama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal

November 16, 2007

ICT report, November 14, 2007

New images just received from Tibet show troops gathered outside 
Drepung monastery in Lhasa in a show of force after monks whitewashed 
a wall to commemorate the Dalai Lama being honored with the 
Congressional Gold Medal on October 17 in Washington, DC.

Drepung monastery was sealed off and surrounded by armed troops after 
police stopped an attempt by monks to peacefully mark the honor to 
the Dalai Lama in the week of October 17. The images online at: confirm the 
reports of a buildup of armed police at the monastery, depicting 
troops in the hills outside the monastery as well as gathered outside 
in riot gear. One observer reported: "The woods and hills around the 
monastery were full of police and troops." During the same week, 
there were checkpoints on roads out of Lhasa, and an order to Lhasa 
citizens not to carry out any religious or celebratory activities.

People's Armed Police troops moved in to stop the monks from 
whitewashing the walls on the morning of the Congressional Gold Medal 
ceremony. The Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported that one monk was 
hit on the head with a baton, while a Tibetan source reported online 
on a Chinese language website that a monk who had just picked up a 
tool for stirring the whitewash was hit by a police officer and "then 
pummeled by punches and kicks." According to the same account, the 
monks then left the scene, and a large number of People's Armed 
Police troops entered Drepung, with others doing military exercises 
in the monastery parking lot.

Pilgrims and tourists were not allowed to enter the monastery, and 
monks were not allowed to leave. Most of the monks were not even 
allowed to go to the dining hall to eat or boil water for several days.

According to one report, on October 26, a few pilgrims were allowed 
into Drepung for the first time since the monastery had been sealed 
off. The same report, online in Chinese on a blogsite and informed by 
individuals in Lhasa, stated that on November 7, monks were finally 
allowed to leave the monastery, but only for a limited time period. 
The atmosphere at Drepung is reportedly still tense, with monks under 
continued surveillance.

Celebrations in Lhasa to commemorate the honor to the exiled Tibetan 
religious leader were more quietly devotional in Lhasa compared to 
those that took place in parts of eastern Tibet, where Tibetans set 
off fireworks and fire crackers.
Several Tibetans were detained temporarily after celebrations with 
fireworks and prayers were held at Labrang (Chinese: Xiahe in Gansu 
province) monastery in the Tibetan area of Amdo.

Press contact:
Kate Saunders_Communications Director, ICT_Tel: +1 202 580 6761_Cell: 
+1 202 375 4389_email:
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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