Prisoners of Beijing Olympics

17, August 20, 2008

Monasteries across the Tibetan Plateau have remained under tight Chinese public security surveillance and controls as a check against disturbances arising during the Olympic Games.

Kumbum Monastery in Qinghai Province, although equally affected, was not reported as a scene of major demonstrations during the recent uprising across the Tibetan Plateau. Nevertheless, it was placed under as tight a control as any other monastery. “We can’t get email until October after the Olympics,” the AFP Aug 11 quoted one monk as saying, speaking out of earshot of the mainly Han Chinese tour groups. “We wouldn’t be able to go and watch them (ie, the Olympics) as the train station will not sell us any train tickets, so I don’t really care,” it quoted another monk as saying.

The report cited another monk as saying they were being watched constantly by the authorities and were pressured not to talk to foreigners. “They always come to ask us ‘where have you been’, and ‘who have you talked to'”, he was quoted as saying. Five Kumbum monks were arrested during the recent Tibetan uprising, although all were now back in the monastery.

Nestled in a hillside near Qinghai’s capital Xining, Kumbum previously used to have 3,600 monks; under Chinese rule this has been limited to about 800, the report said.

The situation was the same at almost all other Buddhist monasteries across the Tibetan Plateau. A lama at the Longwu (Tibetan: Rongwo) monastery, in Tongren (Tibetan: Rebkong) county in the Huangnan (Tibetan: Malho) Prefecture of Qinghai province said none of the monks there was allowed to leave, reported Radio Free Asia Aug 14. “We just stay inside the monastery now.”

Likewise, the Bora monastery in Xiahe (Tibetan: Sangchu) county in Gannan (Tibetan: Kanlho) Prefecture of Gansu province was reported to be surrounded by police, with a 24-hour watch kept on the monks. Phone calls made to Drepung monastery in the outskirt of Lhasa city keep remaining unasserted, probably conforming previous reports that all mobile phones there had been confiscated.


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