Protests in other Tibetan areas

42, Mar 31’08

Massive protests also took place in traditional Tibetan provinces of Amdo and Kham that after China’s annexation of Tibet became Qinghai and parts of Chinese Gansu and Sichuan provinces. They continued even after massive troop deployments and monastery lockdowns around Mar 14 and sealing off of county and prefectural towns.

Kanlho (Chinese: Gannan) Prefecture, Gansu Province
Canadian TV (CTV) Mar 20 carried dramatic footage of mounted Tibetans, cheering wildly as they galloped into an unnamed town in Gansu Province in a crowd of about 1,000 men and women to demand independence for Tibet. One of the horsemen seen through a cloud of dust kicked up by the horses’ hooves was carrying a large Tibetan flag.

Reaching the town, they attacked government buildings and were repelled by a force of about 100 heavily armed soldiers who used teargas on them.

The footage showed a group of Tibetans pulling down the Chinese national flag at the town’s school and replacing it with a Tibetan one. It also showed people shouting slogans calling for “freedom from Chinese rule and for an end to years of brutal oppression”. The CTV reporter said scenes like these were repeated throughout the Tibetan areas in that part.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said Mar 24 that since Mar 14, beating, smashing, looting and arson had occurred in the counties of Xiahe (Tibetan: Sangchu/Labrang), Maqu (Tibetan: Machu), Luqu (Tibetan: Luchu) and Jone (Tibetan: Chone) and Hezuo (Tibetan: Tsoe) City in Gannan (Tibetan: Kanlho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It said the “mobsters”, carrying flags, attacked government buildings at the Xiahe County seat on Mar 15, raised flags in government offices and primary schools in Amuquhu Town of Xiahe County on Mar 17, in Maai Town of Luqu County and Kecai Town of Xiahe County on Mar 19.

Machu County: Machu County, with a population of 33,300, was reported to be one of the worst hit during the Gannan riots from Mar 14 to 19, with nearly all its street shops smashed, and many of them, including the local police station, being torched. A Xinhua report Mar 23 said that from 5 pm till midnight on Mar 16, some rioters marched in the seat of Machu County and broke into government buildings and shops, inflicting great losses. TCHRD Mar 16 and 18 said over 2,000 protesters, led by monks and students, took part in that protest, shouting “Independence for Tibet” and “Long Live the Dalai Lama” as they marched to the county seat. A police car was set on fire in front of the county police station. Government buildings as well as Chinese-owned motorcycles and shops were also set on fire. The Mar 18 report of TCHRD said over 80 Tibetans were detained. While other sources estimated the number of those killed in troop firing at 19.

The Mar 16 TCHRD report said that at Nyulra Township in Machu County, around 250 protesters destroyed the doors of the County government offices; they also removed the Chinese national flag and replaced it with a Tibetan one.

Machu also saw, on Mar 16 a demonstration by a group of students who were soon joined by nomads from neighbouring counties, reported ICT Mar 19. The protesters, wearing Khatags, were reported to carry a Tibetan national flag and pictures of the Dalai Lama, shout independence slogans and call for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Student protests also took place at the Kanlho prefectural seat, Tsoe city (Kanlho), and at Achok Monastery (Sangchu County, Kanlho).

Demonstrations directly linked to those in Machu also took place in the county’s Ngora township, involving some 200 monks and laypeople, who shouted “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “Independence for Tibet”, besides raising other slogans, reported TibetInfonet Mar 17. It said protests had also taken pace in other Machu townships, such as Malma, Wayan and Murshak.

At least 11 truckloads of Chinese security personnel were used to suppress the protests in Machu, said an ICT report Mar 19. Xinhua Mar 23 said there were no fresh unrests in Gannan since Mar 20.

Sangchu County: According to RFA (Radio Free Asia, Washington, DC), a protest rally at Xiahe on Mar 14 involved 1,000 Tibetans led by monks. The protesters carried Tibetan flags and shouted slogans like “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “Free Tibet”. It said army was called in when the local police could not stop the crowd from marching to the prefectural government headquarters. News agency AFP Mar 16 reported that the protest involved an attack on a police station by thousands of people and the raising of the Tibetan national flag. There were reports of arrests which, however, could not be confirmed.

On Mar 15, monks of the local Tashikyil Monastery staged another demonstration, joined by thousands of Tibetans in the area, reported TCHRD Mar 15. It began with a prayer service at Choeten Karpo (White Stupa), the local site for holding Sangsol (incense burning ritual). The service ended with people raising slogans calling for Tibet’s independence and shouting “Long Live the Dalai Lama”. Carrying Tibetan national flags, the crowd headed towards the Sangchu County Government headquarters.

At Amchok Bora town in Sangchu County, there was also a protest on Mar 18. Several hundred monks from Bora monastery broke into Chinese shops and destroyed property, taking care, however, to avoid violence against people, reported ICT Mar 19. They stopped when asked to do so by the respected lama Jamyang Shepa and, possibly, other monks. Large numbers of Tibetan nomads also gathered in the area and were reportedly persuaded by local monks not to carry out protests.

TCHRD Mar 18 said the protesters, apparently in the same demonstration, replaced the Chinese flag at Bora’s primary and middle schools with a Tibetan flag each. It said the PAP, three truckloads of them having been brought in, fired teargas shells to prevent the protesters from heading for the county government seat. Mar 20 said a demonstration was held by laypeople at Tsayou Township of Sangchu County on Mar 18.

Luchu County: Luchu County proper was hit by continuous demonstration from Mar 16 to 18, beginning with a “peace march” Mar 16 by over 300 monks of Shetsang Garsar monastery, about 8 km from the county seat. They marched to the county’s Minority (Tibetan) Middle School, carrying an especially large Tibetan national flag, as well as many smaller ones and portraits of the Dalai Lama and Gendun Choekyi Nyima, reported TibetInfoNet Mar 21. They were joined by townspeople and nomads, many of them holding up handwritten posters demanding “Independence for Tibet”. Some monks sported headbands with the same slogan. At the school they tore down the school’s name written in Chinese, leaving the one in Tibetan intact.

Shouting slogans, the crowd then marched to the government headquarters where they removed the Chinese flag, breaking the flag pole itself. The protesters, now numbering about 3,000, kept shouting “Let the Dalai Lama return! Long Live the Dalai Lama! Release Panchen Gedun Chokyi Nyima! Tibet belongs to Tibetans! Tibetans should be granted freedom and independence through peaceful dialogue! May the exiles and Tibetans inside Tibet be reunited!”

As it marched along the county’s main street, the crowd removed all the name boards and symbols of the local Chinese government, including those of the local People’s Court and Public Security Bureau (PSB).

Monks exhorted the crowd not to engage in any kind of violence. The crowd dispersed as night fell, with a vow to return the next day. The night of Mar 16 also saw students from the Minority (Tibetan) Middle School taking to the streets in solidarity with the marchers led by the monks.

On Mar 18, when monks proceeded to march again, they were persuaded by local Tibetan cadres and senior Lamas to stop it, reminding them of the brutal repercussions that were sure to follow. Laypeople continued the protest for about an hour.

Similar protests reportedly took place in most townships within Luchu County, such as Samsa, Alle and Laring.

A further demonstration involving over 200 Tibetan nomads and farmers and staged at a primary school compound in Ponkor village of Ma Ngoe Township in Luchu County of Gansu Province on Mar 19 was broken up by police after the Chinese flag was pulled down and a Tibetan flag raised in its place. The protesters had shouted slogans such as “Independence for Tibet”, “Long Live the Dalai Lama”, Release the Panchen Lama” “Dalai Lama should return to Tibet” and “Tibet belongs to Tibetans”, reported TCHRD Mar 19.

Chone County: On Mar 18, some 500 monks of Choephel Shing Monastery at Dogo Township in Chone (Chinese: Jone or Zhuoni) County staged a protest after an incense burning ritual on a hill behind the monastery. TCHRD said Mar 18 that the monks staged a march, carrying a Tibetan national flag, shouting slogans for Tibet’s independence and long life for the Dalai Lama. Mar 26 said large number of monks of Tashi Choeling monastery were arrested after they staged a peaceful demonstration on Mar 23. Others who escaped were ordered to surrender by Mar 24.

Tsoe County: The Tsoe city protest took place on Mar 18 and was led by monks of Kakhamey Monastery at Kakha Township, joined by hundreds of laypeople in a march to the local government office. The demonstration remained peaceful and ended with the protesters replacing the Chinese flag with a Tibetan flag, said a TCHRD report Mar 19.

However, Mar 18 reported that Tibetan students who held a protest at Tsoe municipality on Mar 17 were severely beaten by police and armed forces. TCHRD reported Mar 17 that the protesting students included those from the Tibetan Medical College, Teacher Training Higher Institute and other colleges in Tsoe City and that the protests were held at the students’ respective university premises. It said the protests took place around the same time in the morning.

Sichuan Province
Large demonstrations followed by riots provoked by China’s violent crackdown took place in Ngaba (Chinese: Aba), Dzoege (Chinese: Ruo’ergai), Kakhog and Barkham counties of Ngaba Prefecture and Kandze (also Karze, Chinese: Ganzi) and Serthar (Chinese: Seda) counties of Kandze Prefecture in Sichuan province. There were a number of deaths in police firings, with the Chinese also claiming the death of one armed police.

Ngaba County: Major protests and crackdowns took place in Aba County of Sichuan province for a number of days since Mar 16, especially at and around Kirti Monastery, resulting in deaths in police firing. Xinhua reported Mar 23 that the county, with a population of 60,000, was ravaged by unrest that erupted on Mar 16. It said the “violent mob” carried flags and shouted independence slogans as they “stormed into and attacked government offices, police stations, hospitals, schools and banks. Most shops and markets in the county were ransacked.” China Daily Mar 26 said the protest initially involved about 800 people, including monks from Geerdeng (ie, Kirti) Monastery.

RFA Mar 17 reported that protests took place in both rural and urban areas. It quoted a Chinese woman in the county as saying she was not worried about her safety. The protests, which took place over the weekend, were reported to involve 400-500 monks.

TCHRD said Mar 16 that the demonstration there followed a morning prayer service in which thousands of monks of Kirti monastery took part. Shortly after it, the monks started protesting, shouting calls for Tibet’s independence and the Dalai Lama’s return. The demonstrators were later joined by laypeople so that the crowd swelled to thousands as it headed for the Aba County headquarters.

Although the demonstration was peaceful, the PAP dispersed it by shooting into the crowd, killing at least 23 monks, nomads, farmers, and students and wounding hundreds. Mar 18 said that on Mar 17 nuns from Ngatoe nunnery and laypeople carried the bodies of those killed in the Mar 16 protest to the County government headquarters, where they held a protest. The China Daily report of Mar 26 simply said, “more than 200 nuns stirred up trouble by holding up photos of the Dalai Lama and parading through the main street downtown.”

Another demonstration, involving a march to the county government centre on Mar 18, involved 1,000 monks and others who shouted “Long Live the Dalai Lama!” “Freedom for Tibet!”, and “Release the Panchen Lama!” RFA Mar 25 reported that the protesters also called for the Dalai Lama’s return and for China to begin a dialogue with him.

The China Daily report of Mar 26 said that between Mar 16 and 19, rioters burned down government buildings in five villages and smashed police stations, schools, hospitals and rural credit cooperatives. “After burning down the township government building, the gang lowered the national flag and replaced it with the flag of the so-called Tibetan government-in-exile,” Tian Gang, head of Jialuo township, has said.

Neighbouring Ragya Monastery was surrounded by PAP troops on Mar 16 and ordered to stop an ongoing prayer service for those killed near Kirti Monastery, said the ICT report of Mar 19.

On Mar 20, monks and lay people of Dotoe Township in Dzamthang (Chinese: Rangtang) County staged a demonstration, which was quickly suppressed and the township people summoned to a county meeting, reported Mar 26.

Barkham County: There was a confrontation on Mar 21 between some 40 monks of Tso Dun Kirti Monastery at Gyalrong Tso Dun Township in Barkham (Chinese: Ma’erkang) County of Ngapa Prefecture over the ban imposed that day on the monastery’s annual ritual dance festival, said Mar 21.

On Mar 17 and 19, students of the higher secondary school in Barkham County raised the Tibetan National flag in their school, reported Mar 21.

Kakhog County: Other reported demonstrations included a peaceful one at Marthang (or Kakhog, Chinese: Huangyuan) County of Aba prefecture on Mar 18 involving over 100 people with no report of arrests. TCHRD Mar 19 said it was started by dozens of monks of Achok Tsenyi Monastery in Achok Township, with laypeople joining in as the protesters marched to the township seat, where they replaced the Chinese flag with a Tibetan one. The protesters shouted demands for the Dalai Lama’s return and freedom in Tibet. Truckloads of PAP quelled the protest. Mar 18 reported that 30 Tibetan Students of Kakhog (Marthang) County who took part in a protest on Mar 17 at their school campus were severely beaten and later arrested. This was after the authorities failed to hold back the students who marched to the County government headquarters. The report said the students again staged a protest the same evening. TCHRD Mar 17 reported that in the morning of Mar 16 too, around 100 Tibetan students of Marthang Nationality Middle School staged a demonstration inside their school compound, calling for the Dalai Lama’s return.

Dzoege County: Replacing the Chinese flag with a Tibetan flag was common protest action at many places, including as early as Mar 10 at the compound of Dzoege Thangkor Soktsang Monastery in Dzoege County, according to the TCHRD Mar 19. It said the incident was repeated on Mar 14. In the evening of Mar 16, hundreds of PAP troops prevented dozens of monks from the monastery from marching to the county seat, the report said. But the monks persevered and took out a march the next morning, joined by laypeople. The protesters called for Tibet’s independence, shouted “Long Live the Dalai Lama”, “Release Panchen Lama” and “China quit Tibet”. At the county seat, they stormed the PSB headquarter and replaced the compound’s Chinese flag with a Tibetan one. The PAP fired teargas shells to disperse the protesters.

Again, on Mar 21, monks from the local Jam-Mey Monastery in Dzoege County led a protest rally of more than 300 Tibetans. The protestors brought down the Chinese flag at the local administration headquarters and also at the local army camp. They shouted slogans such as “Long live H.H. the Dalai Lama,” and “Tibet is a purely independent country,” reported Mar 21.

Kandze County: Monks of Chokri Monastery and nuns of Ngyoe-go Nunnery at Drawo Township of Draggo (Chinese: Luhuo) County in Kandze Prefecture started a peaceful demonstration on Mar 24. TCHRD said the protesting crowd later swelled to around 200 and marched towards the township government buildings. They were stopped by a large contingent of PAP and PSB (Public Security Bureau, the Chinese police) who refused to let the crowd move forward. A scuffle ensued and the troops fired into the crowd, killing a Chokri monk named Kunga (21) and seriously wounding Tsewang Dhondup (30), another monk. Another report, cited by the AFP Mar 24, put the protesting crowd at 200 monks, 200 nuns, joined by about 1,000 farmers. Mar 26 said monks of Chokri were being forced to leave the monastery while nuns of Nang-gong (Ngyoe-go?) continued to be arrested and that many monks and nuns were missing. Mar 26 said the Mar 24 protesters were from Draggo’s Tehor township.

Xinhua reported Mar 24 that a policeman named Wang Guochan was killed and several others injured by a group who attacked armed police with knives and stones in Kandze Prefecture at about 4:30pm that day. It was not clear if the alleged death occurred during the above incident. The report claimed that police fired warning shots to disperse the “lawless mobsters”.

This followed a similar protest at Kandze on Mar 18 in which troops fired into the crowd, killing at least four Tibetans and injuring 15 others, according to Mar 19, which gave the names of two of the dead and ten of the detained protesters. TCHRD Mar 18 said the entirely peaceful protest initially involved around 300 Tibetans, joined by many more later on, demonstrating on the county’s main market square, shouting “independence for Tibet” and “Long Live the Dalai Lama”. Five of the injured have been named as Pema Dechen, Chemi Gonpo, Lobsang, Tseten Phuntsok and Shao Mimi.

Also, on Mar 21, around 50 nuns and monks, joined by laypeople, held a protest rally in Karze County, reported Mar 22. Mar 20 reported that even amid intimidating troop deployments, Tibetans in several townships of Serthar County staged demonstrations and raised Tibetan flags. It further reported, Mar 21, that when demonstrations continued at Phuwu township the following day, the PAP opened fire, killing three monks of the local Sera monastery and injuring 10 others. Nevertheless, monks staged another protest the following day.

These protest took place despite the arrest of 45 Tibetans from a demonstration on Mar 18, reported Mar 20. TCHRD Mar 18 said the demonstration that day involved around 1,000 independence shouting Tibetans. The crackdown was carried out by the PAP and PSB.

Earlier, ICT reported Mar 19 that at the Larung Gar religious encampment in Serthar County, senior lamas were removed from the Buddhist institutes.

TCHRD said Mar 18 that on Mar 15, Barchog Lopoe, 37, teacher and manager of Lithang Nyingma Monastery, tried to stop a convoy of military trucks by standing in the middle of the road and shouted for free Tibet and the Dalai Lama’s return. When taken to the local police station, bystanders who had joined him and other local Tibetans followed him to demand his release. Although the police released him to avoid further trouble, he remained under surveillance and in danger of being arrested. TCHRD also said Akyi, 52, a monk of Lithang Gonchen too was released under similar circumstances after he staged a sit-in protest on Mar 16 on the main road of Lithang, joined later by a number of laypeople.

Qinghai Province
In Qinghai province, reported protest actions took place in Chabcha (Chinese: Gonghe), Gepa Sumdo (Chinese: Tongde) and Mangra (Chinese: Guinan) counties of Tsolho (Chinese: Gonghe) Prefecture; Rebkong (Chinese: Tongren), Yulgan (Chinese: Henan) Tsekhog (Chinese: Zeku) and Chentsa (Chinese: Jianza) counties of Malho (Chinese: Huangnan) Prefecture; Yushu (or Jiegu, Tibetan: Yulshul or Kyegudo/Jeykundo) County in Yushu Prefecture; Chigdril (Chinese: Jiuzhi), Darlag (Chinese: Dari) and Pema (Chinese: Banma) counties of Golog Prefecture; Bayan (Chinese: Hualong) County in Haidong (Tibetan: Tsoshar) Prefecture and Xining city.

Tsolho Prefecture
At Gepa Sumdo County, Tibetans held a demonstration on Mar 16, carrying a portrait of the Dalai Lama and a Tibetan National flag. They were dispersed by troops, reported Mar 18.

Another report Mar 18 said that on Mar 10, 137 monks from Lutsang Monastery in Mangra County, together with around 200 laypersons from the area, tried to enter the County Assembly Hall where a government sponsored show was going on, apparently to stage a protest. They were stopped by the county PAP and the show discontinued. The gathered crowd then shouted slogans, such as “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “The Dalai Lama should return to Tibet”.

ICT Mar 19 said monks of the local monastery at Chabcha County shouted for free Tibet and placed the Tibetan national flag on the temple. Police surrounded the monastery until the flag was removed, reported. Mar 26 reported that Tibetans from Holkha Township (Tsigorthang County) held a massive protest in front of the County government headquarters, displaying a banner that read (in Tibetan): “Peace, Democracy, Freedom and solidarity with martyrs”. Another banner (in Chinese) read, “Stop repression in Tibet”. It also said that on Mar 22, monks of Atsok Monastery shouted free-Tibet slogans and also raised the Tibetan flag both on the monastery rooftop and on the hill behind as they staged peaceful protest. They replaced the Chinese flag in the compound of a school near the monastery with a Tibetan flag. Troops later surrounded the monastery and subjected the monks to “patriotic education”.

Malho Prefecture
TCHRD reported Mar 16 that around 300 monks of Rong Gonchen Monastery in Rebkong County ended an early morning incense burning ceremony and long-life prayer for the Dalai Lama with a peace march towards the county government headquarters. They were joined by a number of laypeople but soon confronted by troops. The troops confined the monks within the monastery’s courtyard, where they were joined by more laypeople in staging a protest. Teargas shells were reported to have been used to disperse the crowd.

Also, RFA reported Mar 16 that 12 monks staged a demonstration at Rebkong despite the area being already under a repressive atmosphere after protests and detentions by monks at a prayer festival in Feb 2008. The monks burned incense and shouted slogans for the Dalai Lama’s return and Tibet’s freedom.

The ICT report Mar 19 also said that over 500 monks of Tsang Monastery in Yulgan had staged a demonstration, raising the Tibetan national flag on the monastery rooftop and carrying around a portrait of the Dalai Lama before being confronted by the PAP. The report also referred to similar protest actions having taken place at Rongpo Monastery.

RFA Mar 20 said some 2,000 Tibetans, both monks and laypersons, were continuing their protests at Tsekhog County that day, calling for the Chinese leadership to open a peaceful dialogue with the Dalai Lama and resolve the Tibetan issue peacefully. Troops, though reported to be on way, were yet to arrive. Mar 21 reported that a massive demonstration was being held that day at Tsekhog on Mar 21, with no details being available.

A religious ceremony for bountiful harvest for this year held by Tibetans in the four villages of Markhul-thang Township in Chentsa County on Mar 22 ended with several hundreds Tibetans turning into a slogan shouting crowd. The protesters proceeded to the County seat, carrying portraits of the Dalai Lama and the eleventh Panchen Lama Gedun Choekyi Nyima, besides the Tibetan national flag. They shouted “Long Live the Dalai Lama”, “The Dalai Lama to return to Tibet”, “Release the eleventh Panchen Lama Erdeni Gedun Choekyi Nyima” and “Freedom for Tibetan people”.

Upon reaching the county seat, prominent local religious leaders persuaded the crowd to return home as troops stood in readiness to crackdown on them. TCHRD said Mar 23 that three were arrested the following morning, with the names of six other detainees yet to be known.

TCHRD Mar 23 said there was a protest that day involving about 800 Tibetans from Lha village, Nyarong Monastery, Lowa village and Meru village marching to Chentsa County seat. They were stopped and turned back by troops at a place called Lokhog. Mar 23 said 50 military trucks brought in from Hunan Province on Mar 22 stopped the protest and arrested four protesters.

Yushu Prefecture
On Mar 18, around 400 students and staff of Yulshul Middle School in Yushu County removed the Chinese flag from the school compound and held a protest, reported Mar23. Chinese military surrounded the school, ordered the protesters not to speak about the incident to anyone and restricted their movements until the end of the Olympic Games.

Earlier, the police had, for some reason, conducted a midnight raid on Mar 9 at a number of private homes in Yushu County and confiscated hundreds of portraits of the Dalai Lama. The next day, pamphlets calling for Tibet’s independence were seen pasted on walls, reported Mar 18.

Golog Prefecture
Around 200 Tibetans, including many horsemen, held protests in Toema and Meyma villages of Darlag County on Mar 22, reported Mar 22. No further details were available. The day before, monks and laypeople of Chakri, Do-gho, Prongma, and Panchen townships in Pema (Chinese: Banma) County held a protest rally, reported Mar 21, without further details. Mar 26 said the protesters demanded concrete results from the Sino-Tibetan dialogue. It said protests were also held at Panchen, Pangrue and Markhog villages of the county.

On Mar 23, around 500 monks and lay people from Palyul village in Chigdril County staged a sit-in protest on a hill-top to demand that Karwang Nyima Rinpoche (Dharthang Monastery head) be not harassed by the Chinese military, reported Mar 23. The protesters were also demanding that the UN, US and other countries intervene to resolve the issue. It was not clear what the lama was being harassed for.

Tsoshar Prefecture
Protests and actions defying Chinese authorities were also reported to have taken place at Ditsa Monastery in Bayan County, where around 70 monks walked out of a meeting called by local Chinese officials. Carrying with them a portrait of the Dalai Lama, they shouted independence slogans, held an incense-burning ceremony on a hill behind the monastery. They were joined by some 400 people who shouted slogans that included expressing solidarity with “the peace marcher from Dharamsala to Lhasa”, reported in a Mar 18 update.

Xining City reported Mar 21 that the Tibetans students of Qinghai Nationalities University, in capital Xining, held a protest on Mar 20 and 21 to show their solidarity with the Tibetans killed in the recent demonstrations.


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