In order to rein in the monasteries, which spearheaded much of the protests across the Tibetan Plateau in Mar 2008, China requires monks to pass a patriotism test, possibly in September, to be allowed to remain as monks, reported Reuters Jun 13. It said that at the Tibetan monasteries in Gannan (Tibetan: Kanlho) Prefecture of Gansu Province, tension was running high as monks struggled to pay fines and master texts on “patriotic education”, while armed paramilitary units guarded access to main monasteries. Work teams had moved in to supervise study sessions designed to break the monks’ allegiance to the Dalai Lama. The report cited monks as saying the teams were likely to stay on until after the Olympic Games were held in Beijing in August.
Instead of studying religious texts, monks are required to master slim, pastel-covered textbooks, in Chinese and Tibetan. One book covers Chinese law, including laws of autonomous regions, and chapters condemning Tibetan independence and the Dalai Lama. Another textbook, titled “propaganda material”, had chapters on “What happened during unrest in our prefecture” and “The history of how Tibet became part of China”, the report said.
The Reuters reporter spoke of having witnessed similar situation at the prefectural capital Hezuo Tibetan: Tsoe), as well as at the monasteries, including in remote areas, in Diebu (Tibetan: Thewo), Zhuoni (Tibetan: Chone), and other counties.
More than 2,000 people were initially detained in Gannan in March, with all but a few hundred released within a month, the report noted. Some of those still in detention were charged with “intent to kill” after burning local police stations or government guesthouses. Those released had to paid hefty fines. For example, parents of an 11-year-old boy suspected to be involved in the uprising had to pay 3,000 yuan to secure his release after three days. Families had to pay fines of 5,000 yuan or more to free monks after detentions ranging from 10 days to two months. The amount was more than the average annual income in the prefecture. The nomadic families either borrowed or sold belongings, including yaks, to pay the fines.