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Protests continue in Tibet despite harsh sentences for demonstrators PDF Print E-mail
[1 March 2013] Tibetans in Tibet continue to protest against China's rule, even as harsh sentences are handed out to those involved in demonstrations in 2012. Five Tibetans have been imprisoned for up to 14 years for "leading" protests in Kardze in January 2012, whilst fresh protests in the TAR have led to at least 12 detentions. Senior monks in Lhasa have also been detained and are being forced to undergo "politcal re-education".

Page Index:
1. Five imprisoned for up to 14 years for leading 2012 protest
2. Senior monks from Lhasa monasteries detained
3. Six monks arrested after peaceful protest in Markham, TAR
4. Six Tibetans beaten and arrested after protests in Dzogang, TAR
5. Defiant protests celebrate Tibetan language

Five imprisoned for up to 14 years for leading 2012 protest
A Chinese court in eastern Tibet has found five Tibetans guilty of leading a protest on 23 January 2012 which called for an end to China's rule in Tibet. The five received sentences ranging from 10 to 14 years.

The trial took place at the Intermediate People's Court in Drango (Chinese: Luhuo), Kardze (Ch: Ganzi) prefecture, Kham (now incorporated into China's Sichuan province), with the verdict announced on 26 January. News of the trial took several weeks to emerge from Tibet due to the blocking of communication channels by the Chinese authorities.

Namgyal DhondupTashi Dhargyal (pictured near right) and Namgyal Dhondup (pictured far right), both monks from Drango monastery, were charged with leading the protests and looting a public bank. Both were also accused of taking part in protests in 2008. They each received a prison sentence of 14 years.

ThrinleyThrinley (pictured right), a layman, was sentenced to 10 years for taking part in the January 2012 protest and looting a public bank. Two unidentified Tibetans were sentenced to 11 years each.

The protest on 23 January 2012 was in response to heightened security in the Drango area by the Chinese authorities. Hundreds of Tibetans took part in the street protest which called for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet. At least one Tibetan was killed as Chinese security forces fired on the crowd, and numerous arrests were made. Two brothers were shot dead in a subsequent manhunt for protestors.

Further details of the trial, including the charges relating to the looting of a bank, are not known. Nor is it known if the defendants were afforded 'due process' (i.e. their fundamental legal rights).

Further reading:
RFA I Phayul

Senior monks from Lhasa monasteries detained
On 14 January, Chinese officials in Lhasa detained 14 senior monks and sent them for "political re-education" at a monsatery in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu)prefecture. It is suspected the detentions may be part of a new crackdown on Tibetan religious leaders by the Chinese government.

The senior monks, from Drepung, Ganden and Sera monasteries and the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, were summoned to a "meeting" by Chinese officials whereupon they were taken into custody. Initially their whereabouts were unknown but sources indicate they have been taken to Penkar monastery in Nagchu to undergo "political re-education".

Political re-education is used by the Chinese authorities to reform those who do not conform to government policies. During the classes, run by Chinese government officials, Tibetan monks and nuns are forced to denounce the Dalai Lama, condemn 'separatists' and pledge allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party.

The condition of the monks is not known nor how long they will remain in Nagchu, which is in the Tibet Autonomous Region, north-east of Lhasa.

Further reading: RFA I Phayul

Six monks arrested after peaceful protest in Markham, TAR
On 10 February, monks from Drakdeb monastery in Markham (Ch: Mangkang) county, Chamdo (Ch: Changdu) prefecture, U'Tsang (now China's Tibet Autonomous Region), staged a protest in response to a crackdown by the Chinese authorities. Six monks are being held in custody; their current condition and whereabouts unknown.

The Drakdeb (or Drakdhib) monks protested at being forced to attend "political re-education" classes by government officials running the monastery. It is also understood restrictions had been imposed preventing the monks from perfomring rituals associated with the then upcoming Tibetan New Year (Losar).

The peaceful demonstration included shouting slogans calling for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for Tibet's independence. Chinese security forces then detained all the Drkadeb monks, believed to number over 20.

Local residents are reported to have protested against the monks' detention. On 13 February all but six monks were released. Security has been heightened in the Markham region and the Drakdeb monastery has been sealed off.

The six monks are understood to still be in custody, but further details of their status are not known due to China's clampdown on communications in the region.

Following the protest, a large number of Chinese security forces have been deployed in the region, blocking all roads to and from the monastery.

Further reading:
RFA I Phayul

Six Tibetans beaten and arrested after protests in Dzogang, TAR
On 11 February, Chinese police violently detained six Tibetans following a protest in Meyul township, Dzogang (Ch: Zuogong) county, Chamdo (Ch: Changdu) prefecture, U'Tsang (now China's Tibet Autonomous Region)

The protest came after Chinese officials ordered residents to fly Chinese national flags from their rooftops. Refusing to comply, local Tibetans protested outside local government buildings, which included pasting posters to the buildings which called for religious freedom and independence. One report indicated stones were thrown at the buildings.

The following day a large contingent of Chinese security personnel arrived in the area to arrest those involved in the protest. According to Tibet Express six Tibetans were severely beaten and detained by the police. Two detainees were understood to have broken ribs and one other a broken arm.

Further details of those detained and their current status is not known. Security forces have been deployed in the area and roads leading into Meyul have been blocked.

Further reading: Tibet Express I Phayul I RFA

Defiant protests celebrate Tibetan language
On 21 February, Tibetans in eastern regions of Tibet celebrated "Tibetan Mother Language Day". The day, created by an organisation known as the "Tibet Mother Tongue Protection Association", encourages the use of pure traditional Tibetan language, rather than the mixed Tibetan-Chinese vocabulary used by many Tibetans.

Language posterLanguage rights have been at the forefront of many protests in eastern regions of Tibet in recent years, where the Chinese authorities have instigated new policies resticting the use of Tibetan in school curricula and banned voluntary classes which teach the Tibetan language.

Language posterAccording to sources quoted by Radio Free Asia, flyers (pictured right) were posted in Kanlho (Ch: Gannan) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated into China's Gansu province) which announced 21 February as "Tibetan Mother Language Day". The flyers urged Tibetans to defend their mother tongue and give up impure mixed speech forever and described the Tibetan language as the golden cup that holds the essence of Tibetan culture. The flyers also said "No to mixed language".

At a gathering in Chigdril (Ch: Jiuzhi) county, Golog (Ch: Guoluo) prefecture, Amdo (now incorporated in to China's Qinghai province), several hundred Tibetans gathered to observe the Language Day. Amongst the activities, poems were read out, on the need to protect the Tibetan language, in front of a portrait of the Dalai Lama.

Further reading: RFA

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