By Phurbu Thinley
(From left) Gedhun Gyatso, Kelsang Jinpa, Lobsang Gyatso, Jamyang Jinpa, and Jigme Gyatso at a press conference in Dharamsala, India, Monday, May 11, 2009 (Photo: Phayul)
Dharamsala, May 12: Five Tibetan monks, who staged protests against Chinese rule last year in Amdo Labrang and later managed to escape Tibet, arrived to a hero’s welcome in Dharamsala on Sunday.
Tibetan exiles, including representatives of Tibetan organisations, bearing Tibetan National Flag and Khata
(ceremonial scarves) greeted the monks as they arrived here early morning by bus from Delhi.
Of the five, two monks identified as Gedhun Gyatso and Kelsang Jinpa were instrumental in organizing a major peaceful protest
in Labtrang in Sangchu (Ch: Xiahe) County in Gansu Province on March 14 as parallel protests in Tibetan capital Lhasa were being violently crushed down by Chinese security forces on the same day.
The other three- Jamyang Jinpa, Lobsang Gyatso and Jigme Gyatso were among a group of 15 monks who disrupted
a state-managed media tour of the Labrang Monastery on April 9, 2008. (Watch video
A press conference was held jointly for the newly arrived monks yesterday by the Central Executive Committee of Dhomey (Amdo Province)at the Lhakpa Tsering Memorial Hall of the Department of the Information and International Relations (DIIR) of the Tibet’s Government-in-Exile
Gedhun Gyatso and Jamyang Jinpa spoke respectively of the two separate protests in Labrang in which monks from Labrang Tashikyil Monastery played the leading roles.
“What has been happening in Tibet from last year are spontaneous outcome of a deep rooted resentment Tibetan people have had against the Chinese government. No one was there to tell us to protest. Situation alone compelled us to come out on the streets against Chinese rule,” Gedhun Gyatso said.
Thousands of Tibetans, led by monks from Labrang Monastery, staged peaceful demonstrations against Chinese rule over Tibet in Labrang in Sangchu County in Gansu Province on March 14, 2008. (Photo: Phayul/file)
“We couldn’t remain silent when peaceful Tibetan protests in Lhasa and other places were being brutally crushed down, and our fellow Tibetans were being killed for holding peaceful demonstrations,” Gyatso added.
“From a Radio Free Asia Amdo-dialect broadcast we came to know that foreign and Chinese journalists were visiting Labrang Monastery at the time. Some of us felt it was a rare opportunity to tell the world about Tibet's situation. We wanted to speak out to correct the distorted information being propagated by Chinese government on Tibet to the outside world,” Jamyang Jinpa said.
“We simply shouted for the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet. We told visiting journalists that there was no respect for human rights and freedom in Tibet under Chinese rule,” Jinpa said.
At the end of yesterday's press conference the monks were greeted with handshakes and thanks, and were felicitated with Khata
by well wishers and representatives from different activist groups who came to hear the monks speak.
"These are our true heroes. These are the people who have taken extreme risks for the cause of Tibet and its people,” Mr Gonpo Dhondup, Vice President of the Central Executive Committee of Dhomey, said of the monks.
“Our Tibetan brothers and sisters in Tibet are source of hope and inspiration for those of us in exile. Their fearless resistance despite imminent threat to their lives has become the strength and backbone of the Tibetan freedom struggle. Their heroism and courage constantly dictates Tibetans living in freedom in exile to keep the freedom struggle alive,” Dhondup said.
“What has been happening in Tibet from last year is a spontaneous outcome of deep rooted resentment Tibetan people have had against the Chinese government. No one was there to tell us to protest. Situation alone compelled us to come out on the street,” Jinpa said.
Despite their escape, the monks feel, there was no sense of relief.
“Thinking of Tibet makes us feel worried. Our greatest concern is for those who are still suffering in Tibet. Many Tibetans are undergoing torture in Chinese custody,” Gyatso said.
“Our only good hope is to have a chance to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama here,” Jinpa said.
After taking part in protests, the five monks had to be constantly on the run. Soon after the protests, they escaped separately into the hills near their monastery and kept moving from place for more than a year to avoid arrests before finally escaping to Nepal.
Once in Nepal, their flight was not yet over. Fearing possible deportation if apprehended by Nepalese authorities, the monks could not spare more than a week before fleeing again into India for their final safety last week.
----Also Read: A Record of the Tibetan Unrest: March 10—March 25