Monks under ultimatum to return for patriotic education

17, Mar 31’08

Chinese authorities in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) were reported to have given the monks of Jesho Baikar monastery in Nagchu Prefecture a deadline of Mar 8 to return or face “serious consequences,” after they had fled to avoid a patriotic education campaign there, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA) Mar 6, citing Tibetan sources. The launch of the campaign followed a major clash between Tibetan nomads and police in the area on Nov 20, 2008. Twenty-two Tibetans—10 monks and 12 laypeople—were reported to remain in detention after the clash.

“Chinese work teams tried to conduct a patriotic campaign in Baikar monastery, but the monks were uncooperative and many refused to comply—they started abandoning the monastery,” the report said. Besides, some 50 armed police were stationed at the monastery, along with a contingent of work-team members conducting the patriotic education.

The education programme included requiring the monks to condemn the Dalai Lama, abandon his photos, and stop listening to overseas radio broadcasts. “Listening is considered a political activity against the government, and the monks were threatened with life imprisonment,” RFA quoted another source as saying.

The clash began with a petty dispute between three monks from the monastery and a Chinese shopkeeper in Baikar Township in Nagchu prefecture. When police acted in an entirely partisan manner to arrest and mercilessly beat the monks while entirely letting off the shopkeeper, the local Tibetans became outraged, leading to a protest by hundreds of them. When the police refused to release the monks, the crowd became violent and ransacked government buildings and vehicles. Hundreds of armed police were rushed to the area. Six Tibetans were detained and an unknown number of Tibetans injured, leading to a protest on Nov 21 by an even bigger crowd of nearly 1000.

A 14-year-old monk named Tsering Gyaltsen, who wore a photo of the Dalai Lama around his neck at the time of his detention, was reported to have been severely beaten by police for refusing to denounce the Dalai Lama. At the end of it, three monks were given one, two and three-year jail terms, respectively, while 12 Tibetan nomads remain to be sentenced.

The report also said that in Dec 2008, two more monks were detained for refusing to sign criticisms of the Dalai Lama or to pay a 10,000-yuan fine. The monastery had remained mostly deserted since early Dec’08, when most of its estimated 180 monks left it.


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