Dharamsala, Jan. 20 – China is forcing monasteries in Tibet to observe religious events ahead of their calendar schedule for fear of protests. Authorities in China’s western province of Sichuan have asked the administration of Ngaba Kirti monastery to celebrate the ‘Great Prayer Festival’ ahead of its scheduled time as per the Tibetan lunar calendar.
Earlier, the authorities had forced the monastery to withhold its annual winter debate session (Jang gunchoe).
Citing a monk named Tsering of the Dharamsala based Kirti monastery, VOT reported that a monk of Ngaba Kirti monastery was arrested by Chinese authorities from a photocopy outlet in the town on January 15. Lobsang Kirti, 27, was suspected of being responsible for distributing posters defying Chinese orders to observe religious ceremonies ahead of time.
Posters protesting the Chinese interference in religious ceremony in the monastery were seen on the walls in the monastery premises. Lobsang’s arrest is linked to the posters that object the government orders.
In another incident, 2 monks of Ngaba Kirti monastery, Kunga and Dorjee, were sentenced to 2 years imprisonment about 2 weeks ago, according to the same source. The two were arrested in May 2008 for defying the Chinese government’s policy of patriotic re-education.
Citing the same source, VOT reported that another monk named Lobsang Choephel, 33, was sentenced to 4 years in prison, and is kept at a detention centre some 200 kilometres from Chengdu city.
“Relatives of Lobsang had gone to visit him at the detention centre where they were only allowed to see him through a glass partition and talk through a phone only in Chinese language.”
The same source said that the relatives had seen Lobsang in a weak condition and his left eye had swollen due to beatings.
Meanwhile, the authorities are encouraging the Tibetans to celebrate the Tibetan New Year (Losar) celebrations which many Tibetans in exile as well as those in Tibet are planning to skip to mourn the killings of Tibetans in 2008 Tibet unrest. The Chinese government is planning to reward those who fire the most number of crackers, according to the source. It even is sponsoring certain festive events in the towns and cities across Tibet, the source said.