Dharamsala, Feb. 17: Chinese police in Lithang County, Sichuan province, on Monday detained at least five more Tibetans after they joined the “peaceful protest demonstration” staged by 15 Tibetans in Lithang main market, according to Dharamsala-based Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
Lobsang Lhundup, a 39-year old monk from Nekhor Monastery in Lithang was detained on Saturday, February 15, 2009, after staging a lone protest in the main market of Lithang town in support of the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and Tibetan independence (Photo: TCHRD)
The shops and restaurants in Lithang town remained closed following the protest demonstration, TCHRD said quoting witnesses as saying.
“The vehicular traffic movement between Lithang and Bathang, which is around 6-7 hours journey distant, was brought to a grinding halt after the protest and subsequent deployment of massive troops into the areas to check further Tibetan protest," the centre quoted a source as saying.
According to the source, following a peaceful protest by fifteen Tibetans in the streets of Lithang main market, they were later joined by few Tibetan onlookers in the street.
Chinese police detained the Tibetans after they marched through the centre of the town of Lithang, Sichuan province, shouting slogans including “Long live the Dalai Lama” and “Independence for Tibet.” The protesters also called for the “Swift return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet” and shouted “No Losar (Tibetan New Year) celebration this year.”
They were all “brutally beaten, manhandled at the site of the demonstration before being forcibly loaded into military trucks,” TCHRD quoted witnesses as saying.
Damdul, the head of Dekyi Village in Lithang County, Yanglo and Dolma, both from Sako Village in Lithang County, and two other Tibetans whose identities could not be ascertained at the moment, are said to have been detained. Yanglo and Dolma are known to have been released later on the same evening, TCHRD said.
The protest demonstration, which lasted for around two hours on Monday, followed another lone protest on Sunday by Lobsang Lhundup, a 38-year old monk from Nekhor Monastery in Lithang.
Lobsang Lhundup is currently detained at Lithang County PSB Detention Centre whereas other Tibetan detainees are currently held in Lithang Tsagha PSB Detention Centre, TCHRD said today.
According to sources, on learning about their detention at Tsagha PSB Detention Centre, the family members and relatives went to visit the detainees. However, they could not find 26-year old Gelek Kunga, who took part in Monday’s protest demonstration, in the detention centre. Gelek was arrested along with 14 others after staging protest yesterday and were believed to have been detained together at the same detention centre.
“Many fear for the safety and the well being of Gelek Kunga since his detention and disappearance,” TCHRD quoted its source as saying.
Sonam Tenpa, 29-year old brother of Lhundup who led the Monday’s protest and Lobsang Tenzin, 23, are said to have particularly sustained severe injuries after they were beaten by Chinese police at the site of the demonstration yesterday.
TCHRD, in its statement today, has called on Chinese government to immediately locate the whereabouts and disclose the safety of Gelek Kunga and to allow “immediate and unconditional access to legal representation, their families and any medical attention required for the injured detainees.”
In Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibet's Government in exile in northern India, Tibetans exiles held a candle light vigil this evening to highlight the situation in Tibet and voice their solidarity and support to those currently held under detention in Lithang by Chinese authorities.