[13 July 2011] Dozens of Tibetans have been detained in a new wave of protests in Kardze in Kham, eastern Tibet (Chinese: Ganzi, Sichuan province). Since 6 June, at least 15 separate peaceful demonstrations have taken place, calling for freedom, human rights and for the return to Tibet of the Dalai Lama. At least 39 Tibetans, including senior monks, nuns and laypeople, have been detained. The situation is described as "extremely tense", with an increased security presence in the area, armed troops patrolling the streets, roadblocks at every road junction and restrictions on the movement of local Tibetans.
The exact reason for the surge in protests in Kardze is not known, though it is speculated that the Chinese authorities' recent intensification of restrictions on religious expression plus the onset of Saga Dawa, one of the most important religious festivals celebrated in Tibet, may have been motivating factors. The protests, which have mostly occurred in Kardze County town, indicate the continued resentment to China's policies in Tibet and the strength of Tibetan identity and nationalism amongst Tibetans, given that beatings, imprisonment and torture are virtually inevitable if protestors are detained by the local authorities. Many demonstrations were recorded in Kardze during the Spring 2008 protests that swept across Tibet.
A Tibetan in contact with people living in Kardze reported that "the current security situation in Karze is extremely tense, with Kardze County town completely locked down by paramilitary forces who have set up so many checkpoints - there's one at every road junction. Pedestrians have to show their household registration and their identity cards, as well as a document issued by the local government saying that you have permission to travel from one given place to another, and where you were born and where you are staying."
(Photos depict police and troops in Kardze in June 2011, courtesy of TCHRD.)
The first protest took place on 6 June, when two monks held up a banner and shouted slogans along the main street of Kardze County town. The monks, Jrimey and Tsewang Tashi, called for the Dalai Lama's return to Tibet and for human rights to be respected. They were detained by People's Armed Police. Their whereabouts remain unknown.
In the days following, further Tibetans protested and were detained, including:
7 June: Woeser Phuntsog, 31, from Beri Monastery.
9 June: Tsewang Dolma, 20, from Lhamdrak Nunnery.
10 June: Gonyang, 30, from Tsetsang Monastery studying at Kardze Monastery;
separate protest: Jampa Lhatso, 25, and Ringa, 20, from Lhamdrak Nunnery;
separate protest: Bhumo Jamga, from Lhamdrak Nunnery.
11 June: Pema Tsering, the deputy Discipline Master of Beri Monastery;
Passang Rinchen from Khangmar Monastery.
12 June: Yeshe Lhatso, 27, Choeyang, 22, & Penpa Lhamo, 22, from Nyinmo Nunnery;
Tenzin Lhatso, 27, a female layperson from Lhakyi village;
Gonpo (from Yarkhang) and Gonpo (from Yookpa), from Kardze Monastery;
Ser Loklok, 24, from Gyagar village;
Lhundup, 26, from Beri Monastery.
13 June: Namgyal Lhamo and Tashi Choedun, from Gyematag Nunnery.
15 June: Ngawang Lobsang, 37, from Tragye Monastery;
Shampa Choedon, Shi Lhamo & Yangchen, from Gyematag Nunnery;
five or six unidentified monks and nuns.
17 June: Rinchen Gyatso and Lhama Tsering, 21, from Khangmar Monastery.
18 June: Choesang, 31, and Peltruk, 34, from Nyagye Nunnery;
Passang Rinchen, 18, and Lhama Tsering, 17, from Khangmar Monastery;
Lobsang Yangtso, 26, Lobsang Khando, 34, and Thinley Dolma, 30, from
19 June: Tashi Dolkar, 35, and Phuntsok Dolma, 48, from Gaden Choeling Nunnery;
Wangyang from Kardze Monastery.
24 June: Sonam Choegyal, 19, and Sonam Nyima, 19, from Khakar village (both were
sentenced to 3 years imprisonment on 5 July).
26 June: Dheyang, 18, and Bomo, 17, two young women.
Unless noted, the above remain in detention and their conditions are unknown. (The list combines information from TCHRD and ICT).
In addition, on 5 July, the local police arrived at Kardze Monastery and arrested two monks Lobsang Choejor, 35, and Jampa Wangchuk, 46. The reason for their arrest is not known.
According to TCHRD, on 5 July, 13 Tibetans were sentenced at the Kardze County People’s Court. Two of the sentenced were Sonam Choegyal and Sonam Nyima, who publicly protested on 24 June. They were both given three year sentences. No further information is available on the identity of the others sentenced.
The head of Kardze Prefecture, Party Secretary Li Dao Ping, travelled to Kardze County to oversee government tactics to prevent further protests. In a statement he said that, “There is a need to resolutely crack down on separatist activities. Any damage and interference with normal social order of the acts are condemned.” He added, “for anyone who dare to undermine the stability, we must not be soft and resolutely combat them. Any harm to national security, and undermining the public safety and social order, against violations of life and property of all ethnic groups are to be bound by the law.”
TCHRD 11 July I TCHRD 29 June I ICT I Central Tibetan Administration