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Situation deteriorates in Bora monastery

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DHARAMSHALA, March 22: Bora monastery in Sangchu, eastern Tibet is under lockdown as the situation continues to remain tense following more arrests and protests yesterday.

Chinese security officers from the local township office entered Bora monastery at around 2 am (local time) on March 21 and arrested 40 monks according to the Dharamshala based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

As news spread of the midnight raid and arrests, a large number of monks gathered, calling for the immediate release of fellow monks.

The Bora monastery monks, although under virtual house arrest following an ongoing siege, told security officials that holding fellow monks in detention would “make matters worse.”

The local security officials, fearing more protests, released all 40 monks a few hours later at around 11 am (local time).

However, the released monks and others who participated in the protest march have been told to make “personal statements” admitting that they have made a “mistake” which they will not repeat in future according to TCHRD.

“The local officials have demanded that the monks turn in the portraits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Tibetans flags which were prominently featured during the protest march,” TCHRD said.

On March 20, more than 100 monks from the monastery had marched towards the township-level government buildings carrying Tibetan flags and pictures of the Dalai Lama while calling for freedom in Tibet and the return of the Dalai Lama.

According to the London based Free Tibet, the gate to the monastery was locked by the Democratic Management Committee and officials from township government following the protest march.

“The monks were told that no one was allowed to leave until those who were protesting turned themselves in and handed over the flags and pictures. They warned that there would be serious consequences for everyone if this wasn’t obeyed,” Free Tibet said in a release yesterday.

Bora monastery has faced heavy restrictions since the 2008 uprisings in Tibet. The restrictions were tightened after Losar, Tibetan new year this year when monks in the monastery displayed a picture of the Dalai Lama.

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