Thursday, August 02, 2007

Scores of Tibetans Detained for Protesting at Festival

KATHMANDUChinese authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan have detained scores of people for protesting at a traditional holiday picnic, sources in the region have told Radio Free Asia (RFA).

Rongyal Adrak, of the Yonru nomadic group, called at a festival in Lithang (in Chinese, Litang) on Aug. 1 for the Tibetan exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, to be permitted back into Tibetan territory under Chinese control, sources told RFA’s Tibetan service.

“Rongyal Adrak is generally a religious and good person, but because he was frustrated at being unable to meet the Dalai Lama...he shouted in the midst of all the people that the Dalai Lama must be invited home,” one source said.

Many people detained

“[He said,] ‘If we cannot invite the Dalai Lama home, we will not have freedom of religion and happiness in Tibet .’”

“He raised a protest and then others joined him” at a traditional picnic Aug. 1, the day Chinese citizens celebrate the founding of the People’s Liberation Army, the source said. Aug. 1-15 also marks a fortnight of horse-racing and other celebrations among Tibetans, when the local weather is ideal.

“About 20 persons, young and old, belonging to the Yonru group are now behind bars. Then others from outside the jail also raised a protest...and now some 200 Tibetans have been taken into custody,” the source said.

Another source who witnessed the protest said Yongyal Adrak had thrown a khatak, or ceremonial white scarf, into the crowd before “snatching the microphone from the Chinese [official] on the ceremony platform and asking, ‘Should the Dalai Lama return home or not ?’”

“The crowd yelled ‘yes,’” the witness said. “He then asked, ‘Should the Panchen Lama be released ?’ Everyone responded, ‘Yes.’”

“Then the Chinese official snatched the microphone back, and a monk from the local monastery who had earlier called the Dalai Lama a ‘splittist’ was verbally attacked by the crowd,” the source said.

Local Chinese security officials, contacted by telephone, reported that the incident had been brought under control, but they declined to comment further.

Last year's horse festival cut short.

Sources in the area reported hearing gunshots near the local jail, but they said no one appeared to have been injured.

A year ago, Tibetan nomads ransacked a local police station in Lithang after a dispute over the results in a major annual horse race.

The Lithang Horse Race Festival, which drew tens of thousands of spectators, was cut short because of clashes over who won third place. Four men were beaten by police, according to witnesses, when they tried to complain about cronyism. They refused to seek medical attention and instead commandeered a stage at the festival that was to have been used for a cultural performance.

The festival is a major event in the region and has drawn up to 50,000 participants and spectators from all over China in previous years.

At 4,000 meters above sea level, Lithang is one of the highest human settlements on Earth. It is home to the 16th-century Lithang Monastery, now rebuilt after being bombed in the 1950s.

Original reporting by Lobsang Choepel for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Benpa Topgyal. Service director: Jigme Ngapo. Written for the Web by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Radio Free Asia is a private, nonprofit corporation that broadcasts news and information in nine East Asian languages to listeners who do not have access to full and free news media. The purpose of RFA is to provide a forum for a variety of opinions and voices from within these Asian countries. Our Web site adds a global dimension to this objective. RFA is funded by an annual grant from the Broadcasting Board of Governors. To add your name to our mailing list, send an e-mail to Join.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

I am moderating comments because I do not have the time to catch all the nasty comments ie. sexual in nature. I won't put up with that. If you want to get in touch with me, e-mail me or come over to Rosemary's Thoughts. Thank you.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home