Chinese troops surround Kirti monastery in Tibet – Food shortages faced by monks as townspeople rally to protect them

Whilst the world’s attention is on Libya, the Jasmine Revolution, North Africa and the Middle East, in Tibet the Chinese authorities are imposing even greater measures to restrict any form of public dissension against Chinese rule.

In Ngaba, Tibet, Chinese troops have been mobilised to lockdown Kirti Monastery. This unwarranted act of extreme repression follows the tragic stand taken by a 20-year-old Tibetan monk, Phuntsog, who died on 16 March following self immolation as a protest against the ongoing occupation of his country by China.

Tibetan Community in Britain call on Prime Minister David Cameron to speak out to protect the rights of the Tibetans.
In view of the dangerous situation faced by the monks of Kirti Monastery and the high tensions this has caused within the local Tibetan community who are trying to protect the monks from harm, the Tibetan Community in Britain has written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to issue a public statement to condemn the Chinese authorities’ disproportionate use of force at Kirti monastery and to raise concerns for the lives of the monks and ordinary lay Tibetans who are being subjected to such extreme harassment.

Pempa Lobsang, chairman of the Tibetan Community, said, “We have written to the Prime Minister to ask him to come out as strongly in defence of Tibetan’s human rights as he has for the people of the Middle East. The unity and bravery of our Tibetan brethen at Kirti Monastery are great inspiration and cause of pride for all Tibetans. All our thoughts and prayers are with their well-being and avoidance of unnecessary bloodshed and risk to life. China’s hard-line policies in Tibet are creating great tension.  We hope China will see good sense and realise these repressive policies are doing nothing for the “Harmonious Society” China professes to want. We also urge the government to instigate a United Nations investigation and programme to monitor the situation in all Tibetan areas where there are grave ongoing human right violations.”

Sonam Dugdak, Campaigns Co-Ordinator for the Community, added, “the intensification of tensions at Kirti Monastery has the potential to explode in 2008 style uprising through out Tibet. Liu Qibao [Chairman of Sichuan Peoples Congress] is already going down in history as one of the most hard-line and cruellest leaders of Sichuan for the way he treated families of the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008 and Kyekedo Earthquake in 2009.  Leaders such as Liu Qibao do not appear to have any affiliation or alliance with the places they govern, and instead only seem interested in making a name for themselves in Communist Party. This mentality has led to increasingly hard line policies since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.”

The Tibetan Community are also calling on the Prime Minister to make urgent representation to the Chinese government to:

•           To fully respect the UN Human Rights conventions

•           Show restraint by withdrawing the armed security police

•           End the lockdown, threats of relocation of monks from the monastery

•           Resolve the grievances of the locals fairly and transparently

Current situation
The monastery has been cordoned off; a new barbed-wire fence has been erected and wall has been built around the back of the monastic complex. Armed troops are stationed within the compound preventing any of the 2,500 monks living there from leaving. A rigorous “patriotic education” campaign is being enforced creating further resentment and despair. It had been reported there were severe food shortages inside the monastery and troops were not permitting food deliveries. However, according to the latest information from the area today, lay people were allowed to deliver some food to the monastery this morning.

The local police and security forces have arrested monks from the monastery and lay community in the area, including the younger brother and uncle of Phuntsog. In one late night raid by police a 16-year old boy was seized. As in other instances of arbitrary arrests, those arrested often ‘disappear’ with no information about their whereabouts. Latest figures received indicate 35 Tibetans have been detained.

Local Tibetans mobilised in defence of the monastery, gathering on the monastery perimeter to try and stop the arrests and prevent the removal of monks from the monastery for “re-education”. Lay Tibetans stood firmly in the way of the troops, stopping them from entering the inner part of the monastery compound. It is reported that the armed police and soldiers responded by beating the crowd and setting trained dogs on them, resulting with serious injuries. Despite this, the crowd did not budge and troops were unable to enter the monastery that time.

The lama of Kirti monastery who lives in exile in India issued a statement on 13 April expressing his grave concerns. In this he said, “I offer condolences to the relatives and children of those killed or injured … I have called upon the leaders of the Peoples Republic of China, and concerned officials in the Sichuan province, Ngaba prefecture and Ngaba county governments to put a stop to their unchecked intimidation, repression, duplicity and harassment in the region. The ongoing repression of ordinary people, both monks and laity, driven by desperation into confrontation with the Chinese army is indeed hard to bear.”


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