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Driru monasteries forced to close; three jailed over protests PDF Print E-mail
[10 January 2014] The Chinese government's crackdown in Driru continues following the refusal last year by local Tibetans to fly the Chinese flag from their homes. Monasteries have been forcibly closed, three Tibetans have been jailed for up to 13 years for allegedly instigating protests, and three others have been detained on suspicion of burning a Chinese flag.

1. Driru monasteries forced to close
2. Three Tibetans jailed for instigating mining protests
3. Three detained for burning Chinese flag

1. Driru monasteries forced to close
The Chinese authorities in Driru county (located in China's Tibet Autonomous Region), have enforced the closure of three monasteries. Drongna, Rabten and Tarmoe monasteries were closed in December following unrest in the region which began in September when the authorities called on residents to fly Chinese flags from their homes.

According to Radio Free Asia, on 26 December, monks at Drongna monastery had their rooms sealed off and were forbidden to return by the authorities. Rabten and Tarmoe monasteries were also reported to have been shut.

Prior to the closures the monasteries had been under virtual lockdown, having been surrounded for weeks by Chinese paramilitary police. On 19 November, the head instructor of Tibetan culture at Drongna monastery, Kalsang Dondrub, was detained, and at least 10 other monks from the three monasteries have been detained in the past few months. The reasons for the detentions, the current whereabouts of the detainees and their condition are not known.

Religious institutions are considered by the Chinese government to be central to political dissent in local communities, and monks and nuns often face political re-education campaigns,  expulsion or arrest.

Driru county (Chinese: Biru) is located approximately 300km north-east of Lhasa. It is in Nagchu (Ch: Naqu) prefecture in the Tibetan traditional province of Kham (which is now incorporated into China's Tibet Autonomous Region).

Further reading: RFA I Phayul

2. Three Tibetans jailed for instigating mining protests
On 19 December, the Driru County People's Court sentenced three Tibetans to prison terms of up to 13 years for their alleged roles in inciting protests against Chinese mining activities.

Trinley TsekarChoekyapChoekyap (pictured near right), Trinley Tsekar (far right) and Tselha were arrested by the Chinese authorities in late November on grounds of instigating protests against Chinese mining activities at the sacred Naglha Dzamba mountain in Driru county. According to Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), they were charged with attempting to split the Chinese nation.

Choekyap received a 13-year prison sentence, Trinley Tsekar nine years and Tselha three years.

All three men are from Driru township. Trinley Tsekar and Choekyap are both from Serkhang village in Driru, and Tselha, a former policeman, is from Thupga village. Trinley Tsekar, 22, is a well-known singer and recently released a DVD containing songs about Tibetan identity, culture and language. It is not clear if his arrest and sentence is connected to his music, though Phayul reported that he had been "accused of mobilising anti-government sentiments among Tibetan listeners of his music".

In May 2013, up to 5,000 Tibetans protested at Naglha Dzamba mountain in an effort to protect the sacred site from mining activities. A Chinese company had arrived to construct roads and electricity lines saying the development was for planned hydroelectric projects. However, local residents believed the real intention was to begin mining and wanted the site left undisturbed.

Further reading: TCHRD I Phayul

3. Three detained for burning Chinese flag
Three Tibetans, including two teenagers, have been detained by the Chinese authorities in Driru county on suspicion of burning a Chinese flag.

According to a Radio Free Asia source, Bumchok, a 16 year-old boy, was initially detained on 11 December in Driru on suspicion of setting fire to a Chinese flag. Several days later Bumchok was escorted by armed police to his home, which was then searched. The police apparently found a photo of the Dalai Lama and then took Bumchok away again. The source indicated that Bumchok showed signs of injuries consistent with being beaten.

On 16 December, two Tibetan females, Choedron, 16, and Yangchen, 27, were detained, also on suspicion of burning a Chinese flag. It is assumed that their detentions are related to that of Bumchok. The current condition and whereabouts of all three is not known.

In September 2013, Chinese authorities in Driru began a campaign to force residents to fly Chinese flags from their home. Local Tibetans refused to fly the flag, resulting in numerous protests and arrests.

Further reading: RFA

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